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I-96 Corridor Shooter Seeks Insanity Defense

— July 7, 2020

Highway shooter files motion claiming he should have been able to plead insanity.

Raulie Wayne Casteel, the I-96 corridor shooter of 2012, is seeking to have his conviction overturned by claiming insanity.  In February 2014, the Wixom resident was convicted of several felonies including terrorism for shooting at vehicles in four counties along I-96.  He is to serve up to forty years in prison for his three-day shooting spree in which he fired a 9-mm pistol out the window of his vehicle targeting 23 others.  A driver was able to provide authorities with Casteel’s license plate, which led to his arrest.

Casteel’s trial was handled by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and court records indicate he has filed his motion in the Livingston County 44th Circuit Court.

According to the motion, Casteel claims he “was denied his right of due process due” to his counsel’s failure to raise an insanity defense.  He is also claiming his appellate counsel was “ineffective for failing to present a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel for counsel’s failure to raise an insanity defense.”

I-96 Corridor Shooter Seeks Insanity Defense
Photo by Scott Hewitt on Unsplash

Casteel appealed previously and the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.  In that appeal, he alleged he “was denied the right to present expert testimony regarding his mental illness.”  However, the appeals court disagreed, ruling “a diminished capacity defense is not applicable under Michigan law.”  The court also refused Casteel’s argument that evidence in his case “was not sufficient to support the jury’s conviction on the terrorism charge.”

Casteel is seeking a court-appointed attorney and wishes to have his conviction overturned and a hearing to resolve the issues raised in the motion.  He is contending that his trial attorney should have recognized the signs of his mental illness.

“After his arrest Mr. Casteel expresses his demons or thoughts to counsel and law enforcement alike.  His delusions are not the thoughts of a mentally stable person,” Casteel’s current motion states.  However, prior to his trial, a physician the Center for Forensic Psychology found Casteel competent to stand trial, although he did conclude that Casteel suffered from mental illness.

“Counsel’s failure to raise an insanity defense was not only ineffective assistance of counsel but it deprived his client of the treatment he would receive from a mental health facility instead of the limited care he received today in the [Michigan Department of Corrections],” the motion states.

At trial, Casteel testified he “was not trying to harm people, but was shooting at cars because he was told to by a coded message he received in a Detroit Tigers game and because the long lines of traffic triggered the demons in his mind.”  His paranoia included believing people were targeting his family and military aircraft were flying over his home.

“I saw a long line of traffic, felt fear and anxiety and shot,” Casteel testified during trial. “I can’t testify to the number, but I did fire at cars, yes.”

In addition to terrorism, the jury convicted Casteel of “felonious assault, carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intention, intentional discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.”  Casteel took a plea deal, pleading no contest and mentally ill to nine counts of “assault with intent to cause great bodily harm less than murder.”


I-96 corridor shooter files motion to vacate conviction, cites insanity defense

I-96 shooter Raulie Casteel convicted by Michigan jury of terrorism, other charges

Accused I-96 shooter says ‘demons’ haunted him

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