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Lead detective testifies in Ashburn murder case

Braulio Castillo


Braulio Castillo, the Ashburn man accused of killing his estranged wife in March 2014, had a fresh scrape under a black eye the same day his wife's body was discovered in her Belmont Station Road home, a Loudoun detective testified today.

Mark McCaffrey, the lead detective in the Castillo case, took the stand in Loudoun County Circuit Court to testify about the details of the investigation as the trial entered its fourth day of testimony. The detective said when he showed up at Braulio Castillo’s home to notify him of the death of Michelle Castillo, he “showed no emotion” and didn’t ask how she died.

According to an affidavit, Michelle Castillo was found hanging from a basement shower in her Belmont Station Road home. She had been beaten about the face and body and appeared to have been strangled prior to being hanged. Video from a neighbor's outside camera shows what investigators believe is her estranged husband running down the driveway at about 8:09 a.m. March 19, 2014.

About 10 minutes later, the video shows Michelle Castillo and her children driving up to the home. Loudoun detectives, in an affidavit, said an investigation indicated that Castillo entered his wife's home surreptitiously, laid in wait until the children were sleep and then killed his wife.

McCaffrey arrived at Michelle Castillo’s home in Ashburn on March 20, 2014, after deputies and another detective determined the death might be a homicide and not a suicide.

The detective said he got Braulio Castillo’s cellphone number from a neighbor to notify him of his wife's death after learning the couple no longer lived together.

“I told him I needed to speak with him about something very important,” testified McCaffrey. “He told me he had his son with him and I insisted this is pretty pressing.”

McCaffrey said Braulio Castillo replied, “Let me get back to you,” and abruptly ended the phone call.

Since McCaffrey knew Braulio Castillo lived within a mile or two of the crime scene, he headed straight to his house after the phone call ended. That's when the detective noticed the estranged husband's wounds.

Loudoun County Detective Steve Schochet also testified about the case on May 24. He said he responded to the scene after Michelle Castillo’s death was initially reported as a suicide.

Schochet said he saw Michelle Castillo’s body hanging from the basement showerhead with an electrical cord wrapped around her neck. He said her hair was fully encompassing her face and she had bruising on her head, face and arms. He also said the body had one sock halfway on one foot.

“I looked at it and I said, ‘I don’t think this was a suicide,’” testified Schochet.

The detective said he made the decision to search Michelle Castillo’s bed. Schochet said he carefully went through a stack of pillows on the made bed with a deputy until he found one pillow with a large bloodstain on it. Schochet said he also found a bloodstain on the fitted sheet below a comforter and another sheet.

Loudoun Deputy Joachim Robinson, who responded to a missing person report before Michelle Castillo’s body was found, also testified on May 24.

Robinson said when the other deputies on the scene found the body in the basement bathroom, the lights were off in the room.

The deputy was called later in the day to watch Braulio Castillo in the back of a squad car while detectives searched his home, which is about a mile-and-a-half from Michelle Castillo's home. The two had been separated for about a year.

Robinson said Braulio Castillo appeared to be napping while he waiting in the cruiser.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned whether Robinson would be able to tell if Braulio Castillo was actually sleeping or drowsy. They asserted it was possible he was uncomfortable in the back of the car because of his large stature and sat sideways to alleviate his soreness. They also pointed out Braulio Castillo asked for a Bible while he was waiting in the cruiser.

The jury trial will go into its fourth day of testimony tomorrow. The trial is expected to last 18 days.

If convicted, Braulio Castillo is facing 20 years to life in prison.

Check back to Loudountimes.com for continuing coverage on this story.

Previous coverage:
Ashburn man arrested for the murder of his wife

Jury selection begins in Ashburn murder case

Defense arguments begin for Ashburn man accused of killing wife

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