No plea yet in Casellas Toro case
Bayamón Superior Court Judge José Ramírez Lluch set the deadline after a court appearance Tuesday in which Casellas Toro’s defense opted not to enter a plea.
Defense attorney Harry Padilla indicted that a plea deal has not been ruled out.
“I never discard anything in these cases,” a tight-lipped Padilla told reporters outside the courthouse.
Prosecutor Phoebe Isales maintained she has a “solid” case against Casellas Toro.
Last week, the defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing, opting to go straight to trial on charges he murdered his wife. The trial is penciled in to start on November 13.
Defense attorney Arturo Negrón said Casellas Toro, 47, opted to go straight to trial on the advice of counsel due to various considerations including getting an unbiased jury.
A preliminary hearing last month to determine whether Casellas Toro would go to trial for the slaying of his wife had been rescheduled for Thursday after the defense told the court they were not prepared and successfully petitioned for a postponement.
Casellas Toro, the son of a prominent federal judge in Puerto Rico, has been free on $4 million bail since his arrest in early September in the shooting death of Paredes.
Paredes, a 46-year-old insurance executive, was gunned down at the couple’s home in the Tierralta III development on July 14. The suspect has told authorities he was at the nearby home of his father, Senior U.S. District Judge Salvador Casellas, when he arrived home to find an unknown man fleeing his residence and his wife dead on the back patio. He says he shot at the man as but missed. The couple’s two daughters were not home at the time of the fatal shooting.
The island Justice Department identified Casellas Toro as a suspect weeks ago and finally filed first-degree murder, weapons, making a false report, and destruction of evidence charges against him on September 5.
Bayamón Superior Court Judge Rafael Villafañe found cause for his arrest during an initial hearing later in the day and set bail at $4 million.
Authorities have dismissed carjacking claim made by Casellas Toro, who told federal investigators before his wife’s killing that he was ambushed while leaving a Toa Baja target range on Father’s Day, with the assailants stealing two guns from him, including one that is compatible with the weapon used to kill Paredes. The target range was closed for the holiday.