A schizophrenic man was insane when he stabbed his mother to death in the kitchen of their Hialeah home, a judge ruled Thursday.
The judge’s decision to acquit Ariel Castro by reason of insanity means the 46-year-old will spend the foreseeable future in a state psychiatric hospital receiving mental-health treatment.
“I’m happy the judge did the right thing: put him in an institution where he needs to be, not in a jail,” said his brother, Alvin Castro.
The verdict capped a rare Miami murder trial before a judge, not a jury.
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“I apologize to this court, to God and to my family,” Castro said quietly after the verdict. “I apologize for all the trouble that I’ve made.”
“”No need to apologize to the court,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Nushin Sayfie replied. “You’re going to be tormented by this for the duration of your life. I’m very sorry you had to go through this. I’m sorry your family had to go through this. I wish your family peace.”
The state and the defense agreed that Castro long suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But it was up to Sayfie to decide whether Castro knew right from wrong when he stabbed 59-year-old Maria Hernandez to death in January 2008.
At trial, the judge heard that Castro sometimes holed himself up in his Hialeah bedroom, refusing to shower, punching holes in the wall. He feared someone might poison his food, as well as a host of phantom illnesses.
Castro was eventually put on probation after attacking his father with a hammer.
But his mother — who was beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease — persuaded a judge to allow him home for the holidays. Castro suddenly and fatally stabbed her in the neck in their kitchen.
His stepfather found the body and called 911. Hialeah police officers found Castro in his own bedroom, his throat slashed by his own hand, yelling he had “killed that b----.” “He kept yelling for us to kill him,” one officer recounted.
Officers had to use Taser stun guns and a broom stick to subdue the knife-wielding Castro.
Ariel Castro had been charged with second-degree murder.