Tuesday, February 4, 2014
PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A man who opened fire on other motorists in a series of October 2012 attacks that terrified southeastern Michigan was sentenced Tuesday to more than six years in prison in the first of two related cases.
Judge Denise Langford Morris sentenced Raulie Casteel to serve from six years and eight months to 10 years in prison on multiple assault charges, as well as two years for weapons charges. The sentences will run concurrently.
Casteel, a 44-year-old geologist from Wixom, faced up to 12 years in prison after pleading no contest but mentally ill last year to those charges. He faces up to life in prison in a related Livingston County case in which he was convicted last week of terrorism. That sentencing hearing is scheduled for next month.
Langford Morris, who is an Oakland County Circuit Court judge, admonished Casteel during the hearing in Pontiac, telling him, "Thank goodness you were a lousy shot."
"The kinds of actions you engaged in ... these are the kinds of actions that absolutely terrorized a community," Langford Morris said.
Casteel declined to speak on his own behalf. A few relatives, including his wife and sister, also declined to comment after the hearing.
Casteel's attorney, Doug Mullkoff, did say before Langford Morris announced her judgment that Casteel was "very troubled" at the time of the shootings and didn't wish his actions "upon himself or the victims."
"Raulie Casteel did not choose mental illness. It chose him," Mullkoff said. "He had no history of mental illness before this period in his life. He never was diagnosed until after his arrest."
During the Livingston County trial, Casteel testified that he shot at the other motorists near the busy Interstate 96 corridor between Lansing and Detroit over a three-day period in October 2012. He said he did so impulsively and because of wild, uncontrolled delusions and paranoia, believing the other drivers were part of a government conspiracy against him.
The nearly two-dozen shootings, which took place in four counties, terrified the region for weeks, leading commuters to change their driving habits and forcing schools to keep children inside at recess. No one was seriously hurt.
While the terrorism charge brought by the state attorney general's office covered all the shootings in Livingston, Shiawassee, Ingham and Oakland counties, Tuesday's sentencing came in a case brought by prosecutors in the latter county for shootings that happened there.
Casteel had faced 60 charges, including attempted murder, in Oakland County for shootings in Commerce Township and Wixom.
His lawyers and family members favored the plea deal, because it allows him to receive the ongoing mental health counseling he wants. Defense attorney Doug Mullkoff has said his client was diagnosed with delusional disorder, a condition associated with maintaining false, persistent beliefs despite evidence to the contrary.
Casteel is a St. Johns, Mich., native who lived in Taylorsville, Ky., before returning to Michigan in 2012 to live with his wife's family.