Following an hour of deliberations Thursday, a jury convicted Saul Castillo on all counts in the Father’s Day 2013 fatal shooting at Tadmore Park in Gainesville.
Castillo was convicted on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime. He was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole in the death of Silverio Acosta of Gainesville.
Castillo had previously pleaded guilty in August 2015, but Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin allowed his plea to be withdrawn after his attorney retrieved New York medical records detailing a history of mental illness.
The foreman of the jury, who asked not to be identified, said he was initially inclined toward a vote of guilty but mentally ill. The key piece of testimony and questioning, the foreman said, was the lack of evidence regarding Castillo’s alleged mentally illness on the day of the shooting.
Acosta suffered multiple gunshots to the head and torso June 16, 2013, following a soccer game at the park.
“When we took the initial vote after we had some discussion, the original vote was nine people that felt straight guilty, and then there was three of us who had guilty with mental illness,” the jury’s foreman said Thursday afternoon.
Defense attorney Larry Duttweiler on Tuesday and Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson at a 2015 hearing both had said Castillo claimed his father was killed by Acosta almost 35 years ago using a machete.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Wanda Vance said one family member read a prepared letter, telling the court of how the family misses Acosta constantly.
“He was killed almost a week before he turned 47, and of course he was killed on Father’s Day. It made it a hard holiday for his surviving children forever,” she said.