Opening arguments start Castillo trial
By JIM SECKLER/The Daily News
Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:43 AM MDT
KINGMAN — The murder trial of a Bullhead City man charged in a fatal attack on another man in a restaurant’s parking lot in 2010 began Tuesday.
John Floyd Castillo III, 30, is charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. Prosecutors dropped charges of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery in February. Castillo is charged with the assault Oct. 16, 2010, on Richard Lee Huffines, 24, in the parking lot of the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. Huffines suffered a serious head injury after he was knocked to the ground. He was taken to a Las Vegas hospital, where he later died of blunt-force trauma.
“It’s not OK to hit someone when they are down,’ Deputy Mohave County Attorney Greg McPhillips started in his opening statements. The prosecutor said Castillo is actually charged with two alternate counts of second-degree murder, two different theories to Huffines’ death. One theory is that Castillo knew what he was doing when he kicked Huffines in the head, causing serious injury. The other theory was his reckless conduct and extreme indifference to taking a human life.
McPhillips then told the jury that Huffines met three people at Mad Dogs Bar and Grill and when the four left the bar in the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 2010, they passed Castillo and Steven Blake Prindle. Huffines made an innocent remark about Prindle’s shorts in passing, saying “nice shorts.”
Huffines and his new friends then went to their cars in the neighboring parking lot. It was then that Prindle and Castillo allegedly followed the four. Prindle allegedly confronted Huffines about disrespecting him for the remark. Huffines reportedly said he did not mean anything by the comment, McPhillips said.
The prosecutor also said Prindle struck one of the men in the group, knocking him and a woman to the ground. The victim and the woman also saw Huffines get kicked in the head while he laid on the ground. Another woman in the group called police while the suspects fled into the night, the prosecutor added.
In his opening statements, Castillo’s attorney, Ken Sondgeroth, argued that his client was only defending himself when Huffines, who got into a car, got back out of the car and approached Castillo with his fists raised. Sondgeroth said that Huffines, at more than 6 feet tall and more than 200 pounds, was much bigger than his client and that Castillo was scared seeing a bigger man approach him.
Sondgeroth said Castillo only followed Prindle after the two went into the bar and was told it was closing. They did not follow Huffines and the other three people to the parking lot. Castillo wasn’t yelling at anyone, he wasn’t involved in the incident, he only watched, Sondgeroth argued.
“He didn’t have a dog in the hunt,” Sondgeroth said. “John Castillo did not hit Richard Huffines when he was down.”
The trial before Judge Steven Conn is expected to last the rest of the week.