Casteel (Lisa Roose-Church / AP)
Howell — After two days of deliberations, a Livingston Circuit Court jury found a Wixom man guilty of domestic terrorism and other crimes for shooting at motorists along Interstate 96 in October 2012.
Raulie Wayne Casteel, 44, who testified he shot at motorists whom he believed were part of a government conspiracy, was also convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon, and multiple firearms offenses in 23 incidents in which vehicles were randomly fired upon in Livingston and three other counties. Casteel denied he intended to terrorize or murder anyone — both felonies punishable by up to life in prison.
Casteel was remanded to the Livingston County Jail pending a March 3 sentencing. The terrorism charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Casteel’s defense attorneys said Wednesday that the prosecutor overcharged their client but they were pleased with the two not-guilty findings.
“We disagree with the guilty verdict on the terrorism charge but feel vindicated by the jury's finding of not guilty of assault with intent to murder and the charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm ... the jury got it right on two of the three charges we contested with those two acquittals," said defense attorney Charles Groh.
While no one was physically injured in any of the incidents, motorists in the region were terrorized for several weeks after shootings were reported.
Casteel was examined by psychiatrists and found mentally competent to stand trial and also criminally responsible for his actions. He has pleaded no contest but mentally ill to nine similar incidents in Oakland County and is scheduled to be sentenced later by Oakland Circuit Judge Denise Langford Morris.
Under a sentencing agreement with Oakland County authorities, Casteel faces a maximum of 12 years in prison. Pleading no contest is treated the same as a guilty plea and the mentally ill provision only provides that he receive mental health treatment while in prison.
While the jury was not to consider Casteel’s mental health in reaching a verdict — an insanity defense was never raised and no medical experts were permitted to testify by Judge David Reader — jurors heard only one defense witness: Casteel. Jurors heard Casteel testify regarding his inner turmoil and “demons” experienced for more than two years.