HOWELL, Mich. – For fans across Michigan, the voice and imagery that accompany the Detroit Tigers baseball game broadcasts adds to the experience. But for alleged I-96 shooter Raulie Casteel, the broadcasts fulfilled a much darker purpose.
During his testimony on Monday in Livingston County Circuit Court, 44-year-old Casteel cast blame on baseball broadcasts for his impulse to allegedly shoot at 24 people in October of 2012 on the I-96 corridor , leaving one person injured.
“The way they would describe the ball shooting at the shadows… I thought they were talking about shooting at cars,” Casteel testified Monday.
To the MSU alumnus, the cars following him on the freeway were “demons.” Shooting at the cars, in his mind, was the only way to get rid of them.
Casteel is facing charges in at least three counties. The incidents occurred in four counties, including Ingham.
In Livingston County alone, Casteel faces nine counts of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, nine firearms-related charges and one terrorism charge.
The MSU alumnus was the only witness the defense called to the stand.
Although Casteel never hid his involvement in the shootings, he maintained that he was not a terrorist and never had the intent to end anyone’s life.
Casteel described a particular day in October 2012 when he was being passed on the right side by Jennifer Kupiec, who testified earlier in the trial that Casteel shot and hit her vehicle.
He said the tailgating driver brought back a lot of anxiety.
“My intent was not to shoot at her (Kupiec) or my other victims, but at their vehicles,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t have any thoughts about murder. … Now I deeply regret that it ever happened.”
Throughout his testimony, Casteel said he felt he was being targeted and watched by the federal government at the time of the shootings.
He claimed his mental instability began when his family moved to Kentucky in 2007, and said he has a history on his mother’s side of mental illness, including paranoia and delusional thoughts.
Casteel testified that he didn’t seek treatment for any mental illness or condition until 2010 because he was overcome with the paranoia that he was being watched.
“I felt my telephone calls were being monitored, and I didn’t want my medical treatment to be compromised,” he said.
He said he bought a handgun and began noticing odd behavior from his neighbors.
Thoughts of being monitored apparently continued for Casteel even after he sought treatment for his conditions.
He claimed that at least 20 times between 2010-2012, he noticed helicopters flying over his house.
Since he began taking court-ordered medication in August 2013, Casteel testified he has come to realize he was imagining the helicopters.
Casteel convinced himself that “advanced technologies” in the form of satellites and computers monitored his family and caused his wife to have two miscarriages.
Casteel admitted that looking back to blame the miscarriages on satellites “sounds crazy.”
In the summer of 2012, the Casteels moved back to Michigan — but the problems did not cease.
After years of feeling like he was being followed, Casteel testified that the heavy traffic brought back a heap of anxiety.
Casteel spoke at length about his family’s history of mental illness, which Judge David Reader of Livingston County Circuit Court might not allow jury members to consider.
Reader is reviewing a consideration to tell the jury to disregard all testimony Casteel gave pointing to his family history of mental illness because of a Michigan law that discredits such testimony.
Court will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m., when the jury might be asked to disregard parts of Casteel’s testimony pertaining to ?his mental competence.
In October 2013, Casteel pleaded no contest but mentally ill for felony assault and weapons charges in Oakland County.
According to past State News reports, Casteel was found to suffer from delusional disorder as a result of an independent psychological exam.
Despite the diagnosis, he was found competent to stand trial .
Casteel will be sentenced on his Oakland County charges later this week.