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Suspect in Queens Hammer Killings to Undergo Psychiatric Evaluation: DA

By Katie Honan | January 30, 2014 12:52pm
 Suspect Carlos Amarillo will undergo a psychiatric evaluation, according to the DA's office.
Suspect Carlos Amarillo will undergo a psychiatric evaluation, according to the DA's office.
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DNAinfo/Jesse Ward/Katie Honan

EAST ELMHURST — The man accused of brutally bludgeoning his girlfriend and her daughter to death with a hammer believing they were witches will undergo a psychiatric examination to see if he is fit to stand trial for the bloody crime, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.

Police said Carlos Amarillo, 44, beat his 56-year-old girlfriend Estrella Castaneda and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 24, with a hammer — using so much force that the rubber grip on the hammer came off in the process, according to sources.

Amarillo, who faces first degree murder and weapons charges, called 911 about 12:10 a.m. Wednesday and when police arrived at the 87th Street home, they found him walking toward them clutching a Bible, the sources said.

"I killed them. I killed them," he told the officers, sources said.

He also allegedly told the 911 dispatcher that he "assassinated" the victims "because they are witches casting spells," according to sources.

The 7-year-old daughter of Lina Castaneda was also home at the time, but was found unharmed. According to sources, the young girl did not witness the crime.

Amarillo, who had no criminal record, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court late Wednesday night and is being held without bail until he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation, according to the Queens DA.

A call to his lawyer, Anthony Battisti, was not immediately returned.

Amarillo's neighbor, Christian Carrion, 23, said he felt and heard the attack while sitting against his bedroom wall around midnight Wednesday — but thought at first the family was moving furniture.

"At first I felt banging, because I was leaning up against the wall with headphones," he said. "Then I took off my headphones and I heard two more bangs, then I heard something fall to the floor."

The distraught Carrion said he would have helped if he knew his neighbors were in trouble.

"I feel bad," he said. "I would have broken down the door if I heard her scream."

He said Amarillo wasn't very friendly and he last saw him on Monday as the two walked in an alley behind their homes.

"He looked aggressive," he said. "He looked at me in a bad way. He just stood there looking at me, like he was about to tell me something."

Carrion said he didn't believe "the witchcraft stuff," and doubted Amarillo's claim.

"They went to church," he said of the Castanedas. "If he was trying to get rid of witches, wouldn't he have had the bible the whole time?"

"He's bulls--tting."