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Teen Enters Not Guilty Plea to Killing 4 Year Old

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By Kamika Dunlap on November 18, 2009 12:15 PM

The 14-year-old accused of molesting and killing a 4 year old and stuffing him in a dryer plead not guilty today Fresno County Superior Court.

As discussed in a previous FindLaw Blotter post, Raul Renato Castro is being charged as an adult in the October 30 killing.

During his arraignment Castro pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and special allegations in the drowning of Alex Christopher Mercado.

A court affidavit in support of his arrest warrant says Castro told police he enticed the boy into his house across the street and sodomized him. The document also says Castro killed him after the boy fell and hit his head, started crying and threatened to tell his mother.

That's when Castro panicked and drowned the boy in the bathtub, the affidavit says.

Alex's body was discovered in the house inside the dryer on Halloween.

Castro and Alex were next-door neighbors

Judge Jon Nick Kapetan scheduled a hearing for Dec. 15 so attorneys could agree on a date for a preliminary hearing. At that time, judge will decide whether the evidence is sufficient for Castro to stand trial.

Castro is charged with first-degree murder and special allegations, including kidnapping. He is charged as an adult, using a California law that gives prosecutors the discretion to try offenders as young as 14 as adults.

If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 47 years.

Under California law, a youth offender cannot face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

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