A man sentenced to life in prison without parole after a murder plea has successfully withdrawn his guilty plea and will have his case heard again, according to court documents.
Saul Castillo entered a guilty plea Aug. 24, 2015, in the malice murder case surrounding Silverio Acosta’s death two years earlier. Acosta was shot multiple times in the chest, head and hand on Father’s Day 2013 after a Tadmore Park soccer game in Gainesville.
Superior Court Judge Kathlene Gosselin sentenced Castillo to life in prison without parole plus five years for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Gosselin granted Castillo’s motion Wednesday to withdraw the guilty plea, returning the case for prosecution and trial.
Castillo’s motion to withdraw his non-negotiated guilty plea was “predicated on the contention that his plea counsel, Mr. Robert Booker, provided him with ineffective assistance” by failing to subpoena New York medical records, according to Gosselin’s order.
The records “would substantiate Mr. Castillo’s insistent claim that he had been diagnosed at the time with schizophrenia or some other mental illness,” according to court documents.
“We were not able to get them because apparently the prison that he was in at that particular time — we had contacted the prison he was in prior to that, so they said he didn’t have his medical records,” Booker said Monday.
Graham McKinnon, Castillo’s current counsel, obtained copies of the records after his client’s sentencing.
“At the hearing on this matter, current counsel stated that persistence, and no special skill, was all that was required to obtain them,” according to Gosselin’s order.
During the plea hearing, both sides made references to conflict between Acosta and Castillo in their native country of El Salvador.
A doctor testified at Castillo’s June 21 hearing about Castillo’s records, which reportedly showed a traumatic brain injury “sometime in his past, presumably his childhood.”
Booker said he was glad the judge allowed Castillo’s plea to be withdrawn.