Juror shortage delays accused Dothan baby killer’s trial

Rolando Castillo with his attorney Derek Yarbrough on June 1, 2018.
Rolando Castillo with his attorney Derek Yarbrough on June 1, 2018.(WTVY)
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 7:55 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A lack of jurors has delayed the trial of a Dothan man accused of killing his newborn.

“It is the first time in my 15 years as circuit court clerk that I recall this happening in a capital murder case,” said Houston County’s Carla Woodall.

Rolando Castillo is charged with the death of his three-month-old son Desmond by way of blunt force trauma in January 2018. He was set to have gone on trial Monday.

But Houston County Circuit Judge Kevin Moulton continued that trial concerned that an adequate number of jurors could be selected.

Of 175 summoned by mail, less than 100 reported to the courthouse, per Ms. Woodall.

Some of those summonses were returned undeliverable, some who received them rescheduled their service dates, a few did not show, and others were dismissed from duty for a plethora of reasons.

While several dozen remained available to hear Castillo’s case, Judge Moulton did not feel that the jury pool was sufficient enough that prosecutors and the defense attorney could likely agree on 14 jurors, with two alternates.

Because of the trial’s complexity and potential appeal issues, he felt it best to wait for a larger pool of jurors to choose from.

Ms. Woodall said jurors are selected from voter rolls that, despite routinely updated, do not reflect those who have moved away or died.

The jury issue is not exclusive to Houston County.

Last week, Dale County Circuit Judge William Filmore estimated less than half of those sent jury duty summons show up for court there, blaming some of that on COVID.

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