Baby Favi’s trial stopped by state Supreme Court
LAS CRUCES – After a day, the trial of Lalo Anthony Castrillo has stalled.
After jury selection and opening statements Monday, the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered a stay of proceedings in Castrillo’s trial, effectively staying the trial while lawyers determine whether a judge’s order was allowed.
The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office requested a stay of the trial last week. Assistant District Attorney Daniel Sewell said last Friday that the Third Court lost jurisdiction over the case as soon as his office filed an appeal against a motion that excluded exhibits from the trial.
The lawsuit concerns the death of Fabiola Rodriguez, a toddler who died in September 2018. Prosecutors allege that Castrillo, 26, abused the two-year-old girl to the point of killing her. The case was discussed in courtrooms and on social media for nearly three years until a trial opened this week.
As prosecutors and defense attorneys prepared their cases last week, the court ruled that the district attorney’s office committed a breach of the find and failed to send the exhibits to the court and defense in a predetermined time frame.
After several missed deadlines throughout the case, Third Judicial District Court judge Douglas Driggers said he had seen enough. He ordered that all exhibits – including 911 calls, photos of Baby Favi’s body and internet searches – be excluded from the trial.
The prosecution is expected to rely on the testimony of witnesses and experts in their quest to prove Castrillo was guilty. But they wouldn’t have any physical items to present to the jury. Sewell told Driggers the penalty was too severe.
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At a status conference on Friday afternoon, Sewell said Driggers had excluded the evidence and not just the exhibits, allowing the district attorney’s office to appeal the decision under the law of the ‘State. Driggers said the appeal was not well received, meaning he lacked standing.
Driggers said that – since witnesses could testify to what was in photos, 911 calls and internet searches – no evidence was excluded, only exhibits. Castrillo’s defense agreed with Driggers. They said the district attorney interfered with the defenses’ ability to prepare a case by failing to send material before the deadline.
As the jury met on Monday and was sworn in around 3 p.m., prosecutors and defense lawyers made their opening statements shortly after. Baby Favi’s grandfather was scheduled to testify early Tuesday morning, starting what promised to be a moving series of family testimony leading to a verdict by the end of the week.
With the Supreme Court’s conditional sentence, everything is on hold.
As soon as this article was published, the Supreme Court ordered Driggers to respond to the stay of trial order. He had until July 26 to do so.
Justin Garcia is a public safety reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. he can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @ Just516garc.