Keith Castro murder trial begins; defense says Taitano had the motive

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Defense attorney Thomas Fisher argues on behalf of his client Joshia Palacios in the Keith Castro murder case. (Media pool photo)

Trial kicked off today in the murder of Keith Castro, and right off the bat, defense attorney Thomas Fisher shifted the spotlight from his client, alleged gunman Joshua Palacios, to events that transpired prior to the shooting.

On July 28, 2019, Guam Police Department Officer Rachelle Benavente was the first officer to respond to a shooting on Bobat street in Yigo. Officer Benavente described arriving at a scene that was in chaos. A male victim was on the ground and a female screaming. Officer Benavente focused her attention on the man identified as Keith Castro.

She testified that Castro was laying on his back unresponsive. He had a puncture wound on the left side of his rib cage, abrasions on the palms of his hands and his left knee.

She said that Castro had no pulse and his eyes did not react to light.

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The home belongs to Mathew Sablan, a friend of Castro. The government states that sometime that evening, Thomas Taitano arrived at the home wanting to fight Castro, along with Joshua Palacios who was identified as the gunman. A witness reported seeing Palacios chase Castro around the home. Castro was beaten down to the ground. At that point, the government says Palacios pointed a 9mm gun at Castro and shot him.

According to the government, Taitano self-surrendered and was charged with aggravated assault while Palacios was located at a home in Barrigada. When Palacios saw police, he allegedly locked the doors to the home. When police entered the home, they discovered a woman identified as Jaylene Cabe inside the bedroom and under the bed they found a 9mm gun. A bullet from the gun matched the bullet Castro was shot with.

Palacios’ attorney Thomas Fisher, however, contended that it was Taitano who had the motive to kill Castro. He stated that prior to the shooting, Castro had revealed that Johnnie Rosario was involved with methamphetamine calling her a “panty down chemist.” He asserted that she was the girlfriend of Taitano’s brother Joshua Taitano. He further stated that Castro had explosive evidence of drugs and the sexual abuse of a minor on a SIM card. Fisher told the jury that Taitano was angry that Castro was “talking smack” about his family and that he went to the Yigo home to kill Castro.

Fisher shared that an individual named Leyton Borja had suggested that Sablan plant a gun or drugs on Castro so he could be arrested.

Castro made multiple posts on Facebook indicating that someone wanted to harm him.

Fisher made it a point to tell the jury about the plea deal Taitano made with the government, that if he testifies against Palacios he would get a 5-year sentence with all but 18 months suspended.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.