Man Accused of Killing Ex-Girlfriend Mulling Psych Defense, Lawyer Says

By Nigel Chiwaya on September 4, 2013 3:31pm 

 Edith Rojas, 19, was fatally stabbed outside of her Thayer Street apartment on New Year's Eve. Rojas' ex-boyfriend, Jonnathan Pena-Castillo, has been charged with murder.
Edith Rojas, 19, was fatally stabbed outside of her Thayer Street apartment on New Year's Eve. Rojas' ex-boyfriend, Jonnathan Pena-Castillo, has been charged with murder.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — A man who allegedly killed his ex-girlfriend in Fort George on New Year's Eve is undergoing psychiatric tests that could be used in his defense, his lawyers told DNAinfo New York Wednesday.

Jonnathan Pena-Castillo, 21, who police said tried to commit suicide in Fort Tryon Park Dec. 31 after allegedly murdering Edith Rojas, 19, outside of her Thayer Street apartment, was shaking visibly during his court appearance Wednesday morning and wore his hair long and unkempt.

"He's so depressed, he's not communicative," said attorney Daniel Scott. "He's certainly not getting the care he needs at Rikers."

Scott said lawyers for Pena-Castillo are currently awaiting the results of psychiatric tests and could incorporate them into their defense.

Pena-Castillo, of Paterson, N.J., was hospitalized for two days before being arrested on Jan. 2 and charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty and has been held without bail at Rikers Island ever since, according to the Department of Corrections website.

Rojas' family members dismissed the possible psychiatric defense, saying Pena-Castillo was a controlling boyfriend who constantly wanted to know where she was and who she was with.

"That's all they have? We don't buy it," said Jose Mercedes, Rojas' father. "He's able."

Pena-Castillo is due back in court on Oct. 16.

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