Instead of state trial, H-3 murder suspect could face tougher penalties in court martial

The military does have stricter penalty options - including death - if he's found guilty.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:32 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:00 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Marine accused of stabbing his estranged wife to death on the H-3 Freeway could be turned over to the military for a court martial ― instead of facing trial in a state courtroom.

The military, police leaders and the city Prosecutor’s Office have been discussing jurisdiction on the case, sources told Hawaii News Now. The military does have tougher penalties, including death in some instances.

Bryant Tejeda-Castillo is charged with second-degree murder for the alleged killing of Dana Alotaibi on July 20.

Attorney Kevin O’Grady, who was a military prosecutor, said murder alone does not qualify for capital punishment in the military system. The prosecution must also prove “certain aggravating factors,” he said.

O’Grady said kidnapping and robbery are examples of aggravating factors.

Alotaibi was 13 weeks pregnant at the time of the murder. O’Grady said that also does not count as an aggravating factor in the military system.

“Killing a baby in utero is a separate charge,” he said.

The military does have other penalties that the state system does not if a defendant is found guilty.

“He could also get a dishonorable discharge,” O’Grady said, adding that punishment that bars him from future military employment and clearances.

Alotaibi’s mother, Natalia Cespedes, said she has mixed feelings about Castillo facing court martial and the possibility that the death penalty could be an option.

“It’s very hard. I am thinking, how his mom is feeling,” Cespedes said. “I think we both lost a lot.”

The Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment for this story.

A spokesperson for HPD said their administration does routinely meet with the military when criminal cases involve service members.

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