Attorneys give closing statements, jury deliberates in Casteel trial
HOWELL, Mich. – The jury will begin to deliberate on the charges against the alleged I-96 shooter on Tuesday afternoon in Livingston County Circuit Court.
Both attorneys gave their closing statements in the trial of 44-year-old Raulie Casteel, who is accused of shooting at 24 cars in October of 2012 along the I-96 corridor, in locations that spanned across four different counties.
In Livingston County alone, Casteel is charged with terrorism, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, felonious assault and five charges dealing with the possession and discharging of a firearm. The jury will consider all assault charges collectively to decide which best fits Casteel’s actions.
In a previous State News report, Casteel, an MSU alumnus, was given an independent psychological evaluation and found to have delusional disorder. Although his behavior has been contained with medication, Doug Mullkoff, one of Casteel’s two attorneys, said his intent was not to harm or kill anyone.
“Mr. Casteel had demons in his mind,” Mullkoff said to the jury on Tuesday. “He had troubled thoughts. He told you he shot at every one of those cars.”
After acknowledging the gravity of his client’s actions, Mullkoff called Casteel a “deeply troubled man.”
Michigan law does not allow evidence of mental illness to be used to lessen charges or make a suspect’s intent invalid. On Tuesday morning, Livingston County Circuit Judge David Reader told the jury not to consider Casteel’s earlier testimony regarding his illness.
In his closing statement, assistant attorney general Gregory Townsend argued that Casteel understood the potential consequences of his actions and did not consider who he could have hurt.
“In this case, the defendant shot at people, knew he was shooting at people and just didn’t care,” Townsend said. “He knows bullets go through vehicles, he knows it causes death.”
Townsend said Casteel intended to bring harm to Jennifer Kupiec, who was tailgating his car and attempted to pass him when her vehicle was hit.
“At this point, it’s a very very good thing that Jennifer Kupiec was speeding, because if she wasn’t speeding she’d be dead,” he said.
The jury will continue deliberating throughout the day and potentially later this week until a verdict is reached.