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Badge and Bar: Updated mental evaluation ordered for murder case
Evaluation to be expedited ahead of Castillo's Aug. 24 trial date
Wanda Vance
Wanda Vance took home the Assistant District Attorney of the Year award at the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia Summer Conference.

A Gainesville man accused by authorities of fatally shooting another man at a soccer game in 2013 will have his mental competency for trial re-evaluated before his expected court date.

Saul Merdez Castillo, 41, was indicted in 2013 and accused of shooting Silverio Acosta, 46, at a June 16 Tadmore Park soccer game in Hall County.

Castillo faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime and aggravated assault.

Competency for court means the accused person has the ability to assist one’s attorney in the person’s defense and understands the proceedings.

“Although the State has no reason to believe that (Castillo) is not competent to stand trial, upon information and belief, the Defense is seeking a private evaluation as to competency and may file a special plea of incompetency on the very eve of trial,” according to the motion.

The evaluation is to be expedited before Castillo’s Aug. 24 trial date, according to an order signed by Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin.

Chief assistant district attorney honored at statewide conference

The Northeastern Judicial Circuit chief assistant  district attorney was honored at the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia Summer Conference.

Wanda Vance took home the Assistant District Attorney of the Year award at this year’s conference.

Vance began her work with the district attorney’s office in 2004, becoming the chief assistant district attorney in 2013.

“Wanda has distinguished herself as an excellent manager and trial lawyer as a prosecutor, and I am proud to have her as my chief,” District Attorney Lee Darragh said. “This honor bestowed (Sunday) was well-deserved.”

Lake Lanier DNR ranger wins regional award

Patrolling one of the state’s busiest waterways, Cpl. Jason Roberson of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources law enforcement won its annual officer award.

Roberson earned the Officer of the Year award from the Southern States Boating Law Administrators Caucus and will serve as a finalist for national boating officer award.

“We are very proud of Jason and the outstanding work he does at (Lake) Lanier,” DNR Law Enforcement Director Col. Eddie Henderson said in a news release. “I’m not surprised he won the SSBLAC award. His work ethic and track record speak for themselves and I believe he has a good chance of picking up the national award.”

Roberson performed 15 search-and-rescue missions in 2014, as well as a double body recovery of two missing Dawson men in January 2014.

He will now compete as a finalist for the Butch Potts Boating Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.

Nick Watson covers public safety issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:


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