San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 2nd, 2011
DA drops murder charge in ‘Harry Potter’ home intrusion


The Hays County District Attorney’s Office has thrown out two murder charges, one of them capital murder, that had been lodged against a teenager who participated in a botched 2009 drug heist in San Marcos that left two of his accomplices dead and one wounded.


Frank Castro, 19, of Luling, could spend less than a decade in prison, instead of his entire life, if a plea agreement signed May 19 is approved by District Judge Bill Henry on June 30.

In the agreement, Castro copped to home burglary and aggravated robbery charges in exchange for seven years in prison and 10 years probation once he is released. If he violates probation, prosecutors will likely pursue life without parole, the maximum punishment on the murder charges since they chose not to seek the death penalty.

Last week, Assistant District Attorney Fred Weber said that there wasn’t an easy answer to this unique case. He thinks if Castro gets a taste of prison, it could put him back on the right path.

“We’re giving him a chance to stay out of prison and turn his life around,” he said. “Somebody that young; he’s got a long life in front of him.”

In September 2009, Castro, 17 at the time, and three teenage boys, all aged 16 and armed with a handgun and pellet guns, broke into a San Marcos home to rob a purported marijuana dealer. Instead, a man opened fire on them killing John Alvarez and Rudy Tinoco while wounding Jordan Mendez.

Weber said that Castro, unarmed in the incident, ran away when shots were fired butwww returned when police arrived. He was later charged in connection with the deaths of his accomplices, among the other charges, since he was involved in the foiled burglary.

Once inside the home at 926 Chestnut St., one of the 16-year-old suspects confronted a man in the living room and began to argue with him. A second man then opened fire on the teenagers, an arrest affidavit said.

While in custody, Castro told police that he had been told about a male nicknamed “Harry Potter” who was said to sell large quantities of “dro” marijuana at the residence, the affidavit said. “Dro” is a slang term meaning high-grade marijuana grown hydroponically.

San Marcos police found a small amount of marijuana in the home and the residents Mark Sidney Smith, 25, and Brian Matthew Smith, 22, were later charged with Class B misdemeanor marijuana possession under two ounces.

However, under the state law known as the “castle doctrine,” both men had the right to use deadly force to protect themselves from the unlawful and forcible entry of their home.

SEAN KIMMONS reports for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.

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