Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Juan Castillo

Juan Castillo
Juan Castillo
Executed on 16 May 2018

Juan Edward Castillo, 37, was executed by lethal injection on 16 May 2018 in Huntsville, Texas for the robbery and murder of a 19-year-old man.

In the early morning of Wednesday, 3 December 2003, multiple gunshots were fired in a quiet residential neighborhood of San Antonio. Debra Espinosa, 26, banged on the door of a house for help. Tommy Garcia Jr., 19, was found dead in the street.

Police arrested Francisco Gonzales while he was fleeing the scene. Shortly afterward, Espinosa herself was arrested. They both said that the killer was Castillo, then 22, who was Espinosa's boyfriend and Gonzales's friend. They agreed to testify against him.

According to Gonzales and Espinosa, earlier that night, the two of them, Castillo, and Gonzales's girlfriend, Teresa "Bita" Quintero, 34, developed a plan to rob Garcia, who Espinosa had previously been intimate with. Espinosa was to lure Garcia to a secluded spot with an offer for sex. While they were occupied, Castillo and Gonzales would rob them, with Espinosa playing along as a victim. Quintero would be the getaway driver.

According to Castillo's co-defendants, after Garcia parked his car and he and Espinosa began making out, Castillo and Gonzales came up to the car with handguns and wearing ski masks. Gonzales said that both guns were loaded, but his was broken and was "only for show." Castillo smashed one of the windows with the butt of his gun, opened the car doors, and demanded that Garcia hand over his money. Garcia tried to run, and Castillo shot him numerous times.

Frank Russell and Robert Jimenez both testified that they were with Garcia at Jimenez's house on the night of 2 December and early morning of 3 December. Garcia received a phone call from Espinosa. He offered to give Russell a ride home on his way over to pick up Espinosa. Jimenez testified that about 10 or 15 minutes after they left, he received a phone call from Espinosa. She was crying hysterically and told him that someone had shot Garcia. Jimenez drove to pick up Russell, and the two of them went to the location where Espinosa told them Garcia had been shot. When they arrived, they saw Garcia's car with the doors open, and Garcia lying face down in the street, apparently dead.

Lucinda Gonzales was the younger sister of Francisco Gonzales and lived in the same house with Quintero and him. She testified that on the night of the murder, Castillo called the house numerous times looking for Gonzales, and eventually came over with Espinosa. Castillo and Gonzales asked to borrow Lucinda's car, and she agreed to let Quintero drive it. Espinosa left in her own car. Castillo, Gonzales, and Quintero left in Lucinda's car at about 9:30 p.m. Quintero returned the car at about 2:30 a.m. She said that Gonzales had been arrested on a child-support warrant.

Later, Lucinda saw a news report about Garcia's killing. A couple of days after that, Gonzales was charged with murder. Later that day, Lucinda covertly listened to a phone conversation between Quintero and Castillo. Quintero asked Castillo what would happen to Gonzales, and Castillo answered that nothing would happen to him because "he didn't do it, I did it." He also said that he got rid of all the evidence - a mask, gloves, and the gun - in an open field. Lucinda then called the police and reported what she heard.

Bryan Brown was Lucinda and Frank Gonzales's 15-year-old nephew, and lived in the same house with them. He testified that on the night of the murder, Castillo and Espinosa came over. Castillo had a gun and a bullet-proof vest. He testified that Castillo, Espinosa, Gonzales, and Quintero left together in Lucinda's car. He found out the next day that Gonzales had been arrested. A couple of days later, he was riding in a car with Castillo and Quintero when Castillo said he had to leave town because he had shot someone a bunch of times, and that he had hidden the gun and vest in a field.

Several people testified that they saw Garcia, who was a local rap musician, wearing his distinctive gold medallion necklace with a thick gold chain on the night of the murder. Jessica Cantu testified that she saw Castillo wearing the necklace the next afternoon. She told him that the necklace looked familiar. A little while later, when Cantu saw Castillo again, he was not wearing it. Cantu also told Garcia's mother that she saw Castillo wearing Garcia's necklace.

Gerardo Gutierrez testified that he was an inmate in the Bexar County jail in December 2003 in the same area where Castillo was held. Castillo told him that he and two friends, Frank and Bita, planned to rob someone, but "it turned out wrong" when the victim ran and Castillo shot him numerous times. Gutierrez testified that the female accomplice, Bita, turned him in. He said the state would have a hard time convicting him because they did not have the murder weapon.

The defense argued that Castillo was innocent and noted that there was no physical evidence implicating him or placing him at the scene of the crime.

Castillo had a previous conviction in 2001 for deadly conduct with a firearm. He served one year of a two-year prison sentence. Witnesses at his punishment hearing testified that he brutally beat and threatened the mother of his child, that he once shot a man in a road rage incident, and that he committed numerous armed street robberies.

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