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Teenager snapped before stabbing

Jessica Cuffman • May 21, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Denzel Castile, 19, had little to say during his arraignment in Sandusky Municipal Court. He told Judge Erich O’Brien he had no questions about the charges, and O’Brien set his bond at $1 million. 

Castile is charged with aggravated murder in Thursday’s death of Athena Castile, who was stabbed at least once in the head and once in the body. 

He’s also charged with felonious assault and assault on a police officer. His attorney is Erie County public defender Jeff Whitacre.

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Police said Castile used a steak knife to stab Athena when he was at his grandparents’ Dewey Street home late Thursday night. Relatives told police he snapped, and he had not been himself for several months.

Family members had previously taken him to the hospital for an evaluation after noticing his altered mental state, authorities said, but doctors had said there was nothing wrong with him.

Sandusky police went to the home at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday after dispatchers received a 911 hangup call. Officers arrived to a chaotic scene, with family members apparently trying to subdue Castile, who somehow managed to wrest away Athena and stab her several times. 

A family member zapped Castile with a stun device, and officers then sprayed him with pepper spray and used a Taser to zap him multiple times before he was finally subdued. He was taken to the hospital to have Taser barbs removed, then taken to the Erie County jail, where he has been suicide watch since. He’s also been under a physician’s care at the jail, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said.

Still reeling from the tragedy, Castile’s family members cried silently as O’Brien read the charges. Castile appeared via video from the jail.

David Castile, Denzel’s grandfather and Athena’s great-grandfather, said it was not his grandson appearing on the courtroom’s television monitor. Something changed in his grandson since he graduated from Sandusky High School in 2012 and went to the University of Toledo as a freshman.

“There’s all kinds of things out there that will cripple, that can happen,” David said.

Family and church members have joined to support the Castile family since Thursday’s incident, and Sandusky police have been of great comfort, too, David said.

“They operated out of the spirit,” He said. “I couldn’t believe how comforting they were.”

The community’s reaction has been that of kindness, as well as a sort of rallying cry to create a movement to support children and young adults who transition from home life to being on their own, David said.

Athena’s body was sent Friday to the Lucas County coroner’s office for an autopsy. Erie County coroner Brian Baxter said he hadn’t receive any results from the examination as of Monday, although he expects the results this week. 

Athena’s death marks the first murder in Erie County this year. Last year was especially troublesome, as five people were charged in a record seven homicides in Sandusky.  

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