An Idaho man who severely attacked and beat his girlfriend's 18-month-old son to death was sentenced for first degree murder Monday.
Jesus Castillo, 23, was given 45 years for brutally beating and killing 18-month-old Zachary Tendoy in March 2017. The sentence consists of 15 years fixed with 30 years indeterminate. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,000, $5,000 in discretionary restitution and restitution in an amount that has yet to be decided.
"Obviously, it's a very tough case," Bingham County Prosecutor Cleve Colson told EastIdahoNews.com. "Because of the age of the child, the family is always going to have a void and are never going to be able to fill that void. I hope that this sentence can give the family some closure with regards to the nature and circumstances of this case."
Colson said he hopes the family can receive some measure of solace in Castillo being held responsible for the death of Zachary.
"A 45-year sentence is a significant amount of time," he said. "Clearly we requested indeterminate life, but I understand the sentence at this point and believe that it's an appropriate sentence."
The family and friends of Zachary attended Castillo's sentencing, most wearing shirts with an image of Zachary with angel wings and the words "In Loving Memory Zachary 'Binx.'"
In his remarks, Judge Dane Watkins said he recognized that there was no intent to kill but that there was a loss of life anyway.
Under Idaho law, when a child under the age of 12 is killed, regardless of intent, the perpetrator is charged with first-degree murder, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Watkins told Castillo he is making a distinction between a sudden outburst of anger, where a baby is shaken and dies as a result, and the severe beating Castillo gave Zachary that ended his life. Watkins noted he does believe Castillo did not intend to kill Zachary.
"I also know that this child suffered significant and life-losing injuries - skull fractures, blunt force trauma," Watkins told Castillo. "You admit to shaking the child, grabbing the leg, throwing him back, 'donkey kicking' him and then, in fact, shaking him."
Watkins told Castillo he believes the sentence of 15 years fixed, recommended by the state, is justified.
In a statement to the court, Castillo apologized to the Tendoy family.
"I know that nothing I can say or do will ever change what has happened. … I never meant to put their family or my own through any sort of thing like this. … I hope that one day they can all forgive me for my mistake," he said.
Zachary's great-grandmother said in a victim-impact statement that she has "cried endless amounts of tears" because of what happened to Zachary and the strain it put on her family.
"I forgive you for this awful thing that had happened, and I just want to leave the rest up to the Lord," she said.