BLACKFOOT — A Blackfoot man was sentenced Monday to 45 years in prison for the death of an 18-month-old boy.
Jesus Castillo, 23, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. He will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison and 30 years indeterminate.
“I will always carry this mistake with me, in my heart and soul for the rest of my life,” Castillo said in the presentence investigation report.
Castillo was arrested in March after the victim, Zachary Tendoy, died from his injuries at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Castillo told police he was watching Zachary and was frustrated because the boy had recently learned to crawl out of his crib. Castillo had been drinking that night.
“Out of frustration and rage, in the defendant’s own words, he ‘donkey kicked’ Zachary,” Bingham County Prosecutor Cleve Colson said at the sentencing.
The kick caused Zachary to fall back and hit his head on a door frame. Castillo, feeling bad for the victim, gave him a vanilla wafer, but began shaking Zachary while returning him to his crib. An autopsy found the infant suffered multiple hemorrhages, skull fractures and blunt force trauma to the head.
Velma McCrary, the boy’s great-grandmother, gave a victim impact statement describing how Zachary’s death had torn at her family.
“I have cried an endless amount of tears watching our family fall apart,” McCrary said.
McCrary said her great-grandson had lost the chance to experience his first day of school, high school graduation and marriage, and lamented that his sister would not know her brother.
“I want to say I forgive you for this awful thing that happened, and I will leave the rest up to the Lord,” McCrary said to Castillo.
Defense Attorney Stevan Thompson said his client was charged with first-degree murder because Idaho law requires it instead of manslaughter. Thompson said he thought the case could have been pleaded to second-degree murder, but that would imply intent, and that Castillo did not intend for the victim to die.
Thompson added that his client had no criminal history, and that both his family and the victim’s family expressed disbelief that he had been violent with a child.
“There’s nothing about what a bad person he was, what a violent person he was, and that he shouldn’t have been trusted with kids,” Thompson said.
Castillo expressed regret during his sentencing and asked Zachary’s family for forgiveness.
“I know that nothing I can say or do can ever changed what has happened,” Castillo said.
District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. said he believed Castillo did not intend to kill the victim, and hoped he could find treatment in prison for his anger and alcoholism.
“You have a drinking problem and a rage problem, and it is the combination of those two things that has brought us here today,” Watkins said.
The judge also drew Castillo’s attention to the cries from the audience at the sentencing, saying he had impacted several lives besides his and Zachary’s.
“I believe that gives you an insight, perhaps, as to those who have lost this tender little life,” Watkins said.
Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.