Father’s Day meant revenge for Saul Castillo. It was a day 31 years in the making.
Castillo ran toward Silverio Acosta June 16, 2013 at Tadmore Park in Gainesville , asking, “Do you remember me?”
And then he fired five shots into Acosta’s chest, head and hand, according to testimony at Castillo’s plea hearing Monday.
Castillo pleaded guilty to malice murder in Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin’s court and was sentenced to life without parole. Assistant District Attorney Kelley Robertson said Castillo “gunned down Silverio Acosta on Father’s Day in front of his family.”
“His claim (was) that the victim, Silverio Acosta, killed his father in El Salvador when (Castillo) was a small child,” Robertson said.
Acosta’s family only heard rumors of the killing back in El Salvador, which Castillo claimed came from repeated hacks from a machete.
On June 16, 2013, Acosta and his family attended the championship game at Tadmore Park in an adult league of a Salvadoran team against a Mexican team.
“Suddenly I saw that man over there running toward my dad and then he started shooting,” said the victim’s daughter, Claudia Acosta, saying she stood roughly 10 feet from her father.
Claudia Acosta recalled rushing to her father lying on the ground, as blood covered her face and stained her dress.
Bystanders followed Castillo as he ran toward the exit and stopped him.
Claudia’s brother, Darwin, and sister, Heydi, testified about their trouble concentrating in school and the fear felt at the sound of a gunshot.
Veronica Acosta, a fourth child of the victim who was not present at the soccer park, said she had nightmares about Castillo getting out.
Castillo’s attorney Robert Booker asked no questions of the Acosta children other than to express his sympathies on behalf of his client.
Castillo’s brother, Santos Castillo, and sisters, Gladis Castillo and Teresa Cruz, took the stand following the victim’s family.
All of them discussed the allegation about Acosta killing their father, though Saul Castillo was the only one present at the time of his father’s death.
“I miss all that time because of him,” said Gladis Castillo, who said she was an infant at the time of her father’s death.
Gladis Castillo claimed she was intimidated by Silverio Acosta at a store, where he showed her a gun he had.
On a cross-examination, Robertson said Acosta did not own a firearm.
Saul Castillo stood up to speak through court interpreter Melva Mendoza, discussing the suffering he endured after the death of his father.
The man implored Gosselin to “please make a just decision.”
Booker, saying his time with the Castillo family made him see they were “commendable people in the community,” asked Gosselin to allow for a chance at parole.
Robertson followed and argued for life without parole.
“He went there looking for Silverio Acosta and he showed him no mercy,” Robertson said.
Following a brief recess, Gosselin returned to announce her sentence.
“Even when we suffer, we choose, we make our choices about how we’re going to deal with that suffering,” Gosselin said when addressing the defendant. “Mr. Castillo, it appears to me that you’ve chosen violence as a way of dealing with the suffering you believe that you have had in your life.”
When weighing the possibility of parole, Gosselin said she had to consider “how safe is the community if you’re out of prison.”