CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Court papers that were made public this week show a special prosecutor claims several factors support imposing the death penalty against a Cheyenne man accused of gunning down two people and critically wounding a third at his house last summer.
Nathaniel Castellanos has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges in the August shootings of 21-year-old Corey A. Walker and 25-year-old Megan L. McIntosh, both of Cheyenne, at Castellanos' home. Castellanos pleaded not guilty to attempted murder in the shooting of another woman.
Casper District Attorney Mike Blonigen filed papers in court in December listing factors he claims would support imposing the death penalty against Castellanos if he's convicted.
Blonigen's notice of intent to seek the death penalty alleges the following aggravating factors: that Castellanos' actions created the risk of death to two or more people; that he's likely to commit more violence; that McIntosh's murder was especially cruel and that Castellanos committed murder to avoid arrest.
Blonigen's statement of aggravating factors had been sealed in Laramie County District Court while Laramie County District Judge Peter Arnold considered legal motions from Castellanos' lawyer, Robert Rose of Cheyenne.
Arnold last week rejected Rose's argument that an error in a letter from Cheyenne District Attorney Scott Homar appointing Blonigen to serve as special prosecutor made Blonigen ineligible to work on the case. Homar had declined to handle the case himself because Castellanos' ex-wife had worked in Homar's office.
Arnold also rejected Rose's argument that Blonigen shouldn't be allowed to serve because one of his nephews previously had been married to a neighbor who phoned police to report she had heard shots fired at Castellanos' home the night of the killings.
Rose also had objected to Blonigen serving because another of his nephews worked in a bar that Castellanos' visited before the shootings. Rose asked Arnold to seal court filings while his motions to remove Blonigen were pending.
Arnold earlier this month rejected a request from The Associated Press to intervene in the case to argue against sealing any court records.
Although Arnold rejected Rose's motions at a Jan. 18 hearing, the court file remained unavailable at the court clerk's office until late afternoon Tuesday because Arnold was drafting orders in the case. Blonigen had previously declined to say what aggravating factors he believed would support the death penalty against Castellanos.
Diane Lozano, state public defender, told Arnold last week that two lawyers in her office with experience in death penalty cases would take over representation of Castellanos in coming weeks. Arnold has postponed Castellanos' trial, which had been set to start in March.