August 23, 1998
Keep it brief here.
Just want to say, uh, family, take care of yourselves. Uh, look
at this as a learning experience. Everything happens for a
reason. We all know what really happened, but there are some
things you just can’t fight. Little people always seem to get
squashed. It happens. Even so, just got to take the good with
the bad. There is no man that is free from all evil, nor any man
that is so evil to be worth nothing. But it’s all part of life,
and my family, take care of yourselves. Tell my wife I love her.
I’ll keep an eye on everybody, especially my nieces and nephews.
I’m pretty good. I love ya’ll. Take care. I’m ready.
David Allen Castillo
In a lengthy final statement, Castillo maintained the
innocence he had claimed since his trial.
"We all know what really happened, but there are
some things you just can't fight. Little people always seem to get
squashed," he said. "It's all part of life."
Castillo also nodded and smiled to his father and 4
brothers who watched through glass a few feet away.
"Tell my wife I love her and I'll keep an eye on
everybody," he said. "I love y'all. Take care. I'm ready."
As the injection was administrated, Castillo's family
members yelled obscenities and 1 brother pounded on the witness-room
Castillo had insisted a friend of a cousin killed
Clarencio Champion on July 14, 1983, and then fled to Mexico. The 59-year-old
operator of the Party House Liquor Store in Mercedes was closing up for
the night when prosecutors said Castillo walked in armed with a long
knife and demanded his cash.
Champion, robbed of an undetermined amount of money,
died a week later of wounds to the chest, abdomen and face.
When Castillo was charged with Champion's death, he
already was in prison, serving an 8-year sentence for a similar robbery
where the victim survived.
"These were innocent people, hardworking people,"
Rene Guerra, the Hidalgo County district attorney who prosecuted
Castillo, said of the victims. "They complied with every wish.
There was no reason for him to do them in."
Guerra described Castillo, who was 19 when he was
arrested, as cocky.
"He was one of those young punks who thinks the
world is going to revolve around him," Guerra said. "He's
never going to change. He'd kill you in a minute, and that's the fear."
Investigators linked Castillo to the crime when an
athletic shoe's distinctive footprint discovered at the bloody scene
matched a print at the earlier robbery. A description of the assailant
from the other robbery victim also matched Castillo, and detectives
found evidence related to the Champion killing at the home where
Castillo had been staying.
It took a jury about 45 minutes to decide on his guilt
and 30 minutes to vote for the death sentence. Guerra said there was
"no iota of doubt" Castillo was the killer.
But in an interview last week, Castillo said: "You
got the wrong guy. I hope you're satisfied."
Castillo was born in Chicago and grew up in Toledo and
Defiance, Ohio. After he quit school in the 10th grade, he worked in New
Mexico in the Job Corps but was expelled. At age 18 he moved to Texas,
where his father lived, as part of a plea bargain in an Ohio assault
"I would have preferred a firing squad because
they stand you up," Castillo said. "I just don't like a belt
on my chest."
Sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin
David Allen Castillo
David Allen Castillo was convicted in the July 14, 1983, stabbing
death of Clarencio Champion, a cashier at the Party House Liquor
Store in Mercedes.
Champion and demanded the store's cash. When Champion resisted, Castillo
attacked him with a knife. Clarencio staggered to the road outside his
store and flagged down a passing car whose driver happened to be a
police dispatcher. He described his assailant and police tried to stop
the bleeding from his extensive stab wounds.
He was cut deeply in
the right arm, damaging an artery, another wound completely crossed the
left side of his face, he had two stab wounds to his abdomen, and one to
his throat. After several operations, Clarencio died of septic shock
caused by his abdominal wounds.
Clarencio Champion was stabbed in a robbery of the
Party House Liquor Store on North Texas Avenue in Mercedes, Tex. The
injuries were not fatal, however, and he was recovering in the hospital,
when, a week after the stabbing, he suddenly developed an infection and
a high fever, and died.
It turned out that during surgery, a nine-inch clamp
had been left in Mr. Champion's stomach; Mr. Champion's widow eventually
sued the doctor and the hospital for malpractice.
But under Texas law, the person who set the events in
motion that led to Mr. Champion's death could be prosecuted for capital
murder, and that helped convict David Castillo, an 18-year-old high
school dropout from Illinois, who had drifted down to South Texas.
During Mr. Castillo's trial, the doctor testified that the leaving of
the clamp inside Mr. Champion had been for the best because, he said, it
prompted him to go back in and clean the wound.
There was no direct evidence linking Mr. Castillo to
About an hour after the robbery, Mr. Castillo
appeared at a friend's home and washed his hands at an outside faucet.
The police tested it for blood. "It could not be determined whether the
blood was human or not," the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said.
Mr. Castillo, who had pleaded guilty to another
robbery-stabbing committed a month before the Party House crime, lacked
the means for a strong defense. The state gave him $500 for an
investigator. The trial court turned down Mr. Castillo's lawyer's
request for an additional $600. The court ruled that there was no legal
obligation to provide Mr. Castillo with the additional money.
Rob Owen, a death penalty appellate lawyer with the
Austin firm Schonemann, Roundtree & Owen, said that an adequate
investigation would have required $5,000 to $10,000.
Mr. Sutton, Governor Bush's criminal adviser, said it
was difficult to know what it would have cost for a good investigation
17 years ago. He added, "We do everything we can to put up enough money
to represent these guys."
A critical witness against Mr. Castillo was Pedro
Garcia, who was himself a suspect because he had worked across the
street from the liquor store and knew Mr. Champion's pattern of going to
and from the bank with money.
At the time of the crime, Mr. Castillo was living
with Mr. Garcia and his family in a public housing complex. Mr. Garcia
testified that when Mr. Castillo came home late on the night of the
robbery, his first words as he came though the door were, "I did it." Mr.
Castillo did not explain what it was he had done.
The police searched Mr. Garcia's two-bedroom
apartment. They found nothing. But the next day, his wife, Lucinda,
found a bloody T-shirt and two money bags in a closet, and called the
The jurors took only 45 minutes to find Mr. Castillo
guilty. They might not have been so sure if Mr. Castillo's lawyers had
found Pedro Garcia's uncle, Oscar Garcia.
In a recent interview in his modest home in Mercedes,
Oscar Garcia said things that might have led jurors to question Pedro
Garcia's credibility. There was deep hatred, Mr. Garcia said, between
the Garcia and Castillo families.
Lucinda Garcia, 39, talked about the case in the four-room
house in Mercedes where she is raising four of her children.
"David, he never, ever admitted to it," she said. "To
this day, I wouldn't be sure he did it."
At the punishment phase of Mr. Castillo's trial, his
sister and brother wanted to testify. But they could not afford to
travel to Texas from their homes in the Midwest. And Mr. Castillo's
lawyers did not ask the court for money to help them make the trip.
Mitigating witnesses are essential if a jury is to be persuaded not to
give a convicted murderer the death sentence.
The character witnesses who did take the stand were
not adequately prepared.
"Neither one of the lawyers told us what they were
going to ask us, or what kinds of things they wanted us to say," David
Castillo's father, Juan Castillo Sr., said in an affidavit filed as part
of his son's unsuccessful state habeas petition. "I think I must have
done more harm than good because I didn't know what to say."
It took the jury half an hour to vote the death
sentence for Mr. Castillo, a sentence that Mr. Sutton, the Bush adviser,
said was fair and supported by the case record.
David Castillo was living with Pedro
Garcia and Lucinda Garcia, his first cousin and cousin’s wife in
Mercedes, Tex. during the month of July 1983, due to ongoing
troubles with his father.
Pedro Garcia had worked for Clarence Champion,
the victim, for six or eight weekends and his employment ended
sometime in July 1982. Their relationship was good, Garcia said.
At the hospital after the robbery of the
Party House Liquor Store, Champion gave his wife and a detective
a brief description of his assailant. Champion’s wife said he
told her the man spoke broken Spanish and kept saying “Damos los
dineros. I am going to kill you.” Champion’s wife also said he
told her that he had never seen the assailant before.
The detective said Champion told him the same
about the broken Spanish and that the assailant said “Dame el
dinero, dame dinero, o te mato” and the deceased told the
detective he had seen the assailant possibly once before, but
that he was not sure.
Another detective that arrived on the seen
recalled that the victim first said “they” robbed me and then
said “he” robbed me.
Champion died on July 20. After the autopsy,
doctors confirmed he had died as a result of the stab wounds
inflicted during the robbery. He had received a total of five
stab wounds: two in the abdomen, one in the throat, one across
his face and one to the arm. A reward of $4,100 was then
offered for information leading to the indictment of the killer.
The routine for Champion was to close the
liquor store at 9 p.m., go home, then pick up bank bags
containing money, receipts and checks from the Conoco service
station at about 10:15 p.m. then take the bags to the liquor
store. When he arrived at the closed liquor store after he
picked up the bank bags, he was assaulted.
Police Chief Robert Nunley said the
investigators were called off the case early on July 15 due to a
need for traffic control due to flooding because of
thunderstorms in the area.
Officer Jorge Castillo mentioned Castillo’s
name the night of the offense to another detective. The
detective learned Castillo was living with the Garcia’s and
obtained permission to search Castillo’s room at the Garcia’s
home on August 2. With permission from the Garcia’s, the room
was searched on August 7, but nothing was recovered.
On August 8, nearly a month after the crime,
Lucinda Garcia called the detective to report the discovery of
bank bags and a bloodstained T-shirt in a hall closet.
Pedro Garcia recalled that the night of July
14 Castillo had come home about 11:15 and his first words as he
walked in the door were “I did it.” Sometime after July 14,
Castillo gave Pedro Garcia $200 in cash.
Castillo was arrested on July 25 for a
similar offense committed on June 26. He was arrested for the
murder and robbery committed on July 14 while serving an eight-year
After at least six different execution dates,
Castillo was put to death by lethal injection on Aug. 23, 1998,
15 years after committing the crime.
Texas execute inmate
(CNN) -- A man who slashed to death a cashier
at a liquor store during a 1983 robbery was executed by lethal
injection Wednesday in Texas.
Later Wednesday, a convicted murderer was
executed in the electric chair at a Virginia prison for shooting
his estranged wife and son to death in 1991.
In Texas, David Castillo's execution was the
14th this year in Texas, where a record 37 condemned prisoners
received lethal injection in 1997.
Castillo, 34, had insisted a friend of a
cousin killed Clarencio Champion on July 14, 1983, and then fled
to Mexico. The 59-year-old operator of the Party House Liquor
Store in Mercedes, Texas, was closing up for the night when
prosecutors said Castillo walked in armed with a long knife and
demanded his cash.
In a final statement while strapped to the
gurney in the death chamber at state prison, Castillo told his
family members to "look at this as a learning experience" and
proclaimed his innocence in the stabbing death of Clarencio
"We all know what really happened, but there
are some things you just can't fight. Little people always seem
to get squashed," said Castillo.
"There is no man that is free from all evil
nor any man so evil as to be worth nothing," he said, nodding
and smiling at his family before dying.
Champion, robbed of an undetermined amount of
money, died a week after the robbery of wounds to the chest,
abdomen and face.
When Castillo was charged with Champion's
death, he already was in prison, serving an eight-year sentence
for a similar robbery where the victim survived.
Investigators linked Castillo to the crime
when an athletic shoe's distinctive footprint discovered at the
bloody scene matched a print at the earlier robbery.
A description of the assailant from the other
robbery victim also matched Castillo, and detectives found
evidence related to the Champion killing at the home where
Castillo had been staying.
David Allen Castillo