SPOKANE, Wash. -- Tension and emotions were high Wednesday as the murder trial for John Castro began.
Castro is accused of shooting 21-year-old Jose Solis Jr. when he tried to intervene on a fight in November 2011 at the Quality Inn.
Day one of testimony opened with accusations of threats from both the victim’s and Castro’s camps. Castro’s friends say they’ve received threats since the shooting happened, including on Wednesday.
On a normal day, a metal detector and security guards are all it takes to keep everyone safe. Until the Castro trial wraps, though, there will be a minimum of two uniformed officers and an undisclosed number of officers in plain clothes, who will camp out in the hallway and around the courthouse.
Before the opening testimonies, both the defense and the prosecution acknowledged the extremely high feeling of tension in the courtroom. Judge Kathleen O’Connor says she just hopes everyone behaves.
“The expectation of the court is that all persons who are attending the proceedings will act toward everyone with dignity and respect,” she said.
It didn’t take one whole day of testimony for hope to shatter. Police say a man watching the proceedings attempted to intimidate witnesses. He was a served a subpoena to possibly testify. That bans him from the courtroom unless he’s called to the stand.
The Spokane Police Department says the uniformed officers are detectives, so this will not decrease police presence on the streets. The department will have as many people as it can guard this trial until it ends in three weeks.
Castro already has nine felony convictions.