Denzel Castile, 20, made an appearance in an Erie County courtroom Wednesday morning for the first time since he was admitted to the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital last spring.
Castile allegedly stabbed his cousin’s 11-week-old child, Athena Castile, in a relative’s Dewey Street home May 16. After a brief tussle with relatives, then with police, Castile was arrested.
He was charged with aggravated murder, felonious assault and assault on a police officer, and a grand jury later indicted him on a charge of aggravated murder. And, given Athena’s age, he now faces the possibility of the death penalty.
Relatives later told police Castile displayed a noticeable change in mental status following his first year at the University of Toledo. Athena’s death came shortly after Castile returned home for summer vacation.
Castile pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity last summer. In October, Dr. Lucia Hinojosa conducted a psychological evaluation on Castile and determined he did not fully understand his legal charges, nor could he assist in his own defense. Castile has remained in the care of the hospital ever since.
At Wednesday’s hearing, however, Hinojosa issued a new opinion after further evaluation.
Castile is now competent to aid his attorneys, Jeff Whitacre and Peter Rost, in his defense, Hinojosa stated in a report that Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone read at the hearing.
One more key evaluation is necessary before the court proceeds with Castile’s case.
Because Castile entered a plea of “not guilty by reason of insanity,” doctors must now determine if he was legally insane when he allegedly stabbed Athena, Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter said.
If they decide he was indeed legally insane at the time, Baxter said he’ll likely ask for a second opinion in the interest of being thorough.
At that point, Castile’s legal proceedings will move forward, with the doctors’ opinions included as evidence, Baxter said.
In the meantime, Castile will continue his stay at the Toledo psychiatric hospital.
At Wednesday’s hearing, more than half the seats in the courtroom were filled by family of Castile and Athena. Some shed tears, while others could be heard saying “We love you Denzel” as he walked into the courtroom.