Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey
Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on the bond hearing for Braulio Castillo of Ashburn, who's accused of murdering his wife.
An Ashburn CEO's bond was set at $2 million Thursday, following allegations that the multi-millionaire murdered his estranged wife and tried to make her death look like a suicide.
Braulio Castillo, 43, was charged with first-degree murder last month after Michelle Castillo, a mother of five, was found dead in her home.
Thursday's hearing resulted from the prosecution's appeal of an earlier $1 million dollar bond that was set. In an effort to persuade the judge that Braulio Castillo could be a danger if freed, prosecutors revealed new details about the case.
They told the judge Castillo might try to influence his children's testimony. In fact, prosecutors say their children may have seen some of what happened the night their mom died. Their 3-year-old told a detective, "mommy and daddy were both together" at the house.
The prosecutor told the judge that Michelle Castillo lived in constant fear, developing a "go plan" for the family to flee. She also told friends "if something happens to me, it's my husband who did it."
About two dozens of those friends came to the hearing.
"They certainly are very supportive of Michelle," Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Nicole Wittman said. "They are very involved and I expect them to be present at every hearing."
On March 19, the day before Michelle Castillo's body was found, the estranged couple had a court date related to their divorce. The two had been separated for more than a year.
According to court documents obtained by News4's Julie Carey, Michelle had accused her husband of being physically abusive and threatening her before they separated. She had obtained a protective order against him.
Police tell News4 that Braulio Castillo was seen on a neighbor's security camera entering Michelle's home on the evening of March 19, just minutes before she came home. Police say he was seen exiting the house by himself several hours later, just after midnight.
The next morning, the couple's four youngest children called their father because they couldn't find Michelle. When he arrived at the home, he asked a neighbor to help find Michelle because he couldn't enter the house due to the protection order.
Investigators said Castillo searched the basement, reported that he couldn't find Michelle and left with the children. Her body was later found hanging in in a basement bathroom by police. The Medical Examiner determined Michelle Castillo's death was not a suicide -- she died after being beaten and suffocated.
In arguing for bond, defense attorney Alex Levay told the judge, "there's zero evidence Braulio Castillo was in the house."
Levay said the 6-year-old boy told detectives his mom woke him at 4:30 that morning and told him to climb into bed with his brother.
"It shows she's alive at 4:30 a.m.," Levay said, contrary to the prosecution's timetable.
Levay also suggested that with a trail right behind the Castillo home, the man seen on the neighbors video could be a jogger turned intruder, turned killer.
Prosecutors dispute that theory, saying it was Castillo posing as a jogger before he entered the house.
While the judge granted the $2 million bond, he also imposed conditions: Castillo must wear an electronic tracking device at all times, he must surrender his passport and he is barred from discussing the case with his children.
"We respect the judge's decision but we obviously took a different position," Wittman said. "We felt that he should be held without bond. We are disappointed, but we appreciate the judge's reasoning and respect his decision."
Castillo's attorney says his client is eager to reunite with family and friends once he bonds out.
"Mr. Castillo, his family and his friends are all very thankful the court concluded that bond was appropriate in this case," Levay said. "I think we proved and the court agreed that Mr. Castillo was not a danger to community and was not a flight risk and so I think it was the correct decision by the court."