Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Husband" gets 5 years for infecting wife with HIV

A 51 year old suburban Cleveland man was sentenced to 5 years in prison for giving his wife HIV, which because of lack of treatment, progressed into full-blown AIDS. Fernando Castro pleaded guilty to felonious assault February 10 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Judge Timothy McGinty said, "This is a crime that calls for punishment. There is a price to pay for such irresponsible behavior."

Castro began getting treatment for HIV from MetroHealth Medical Center in 1993, medical officials testified.

His first wife died of health problems caused by the infection the following year.

When he met his current wife in 1995, he told her that his first wife died of cervical cancer. He got treatment behind her back and even got his son from his first marriage, who is now 17, tested. He never told his current wife, however, that he was infected and made up excuses when she saw him taking pills.

The victim was charmed by Castro's knowledge of the Bible and basketball. "I thought he was going to be a real good father figure to my children," she said. Warning signs she sped past included sugessting that she drop contact with her family. "He never wanted me to have any contact with his family at all. My family always thought he was sneaky." They married in 2004.

Then she started dropping weight, feeling cold and getting the chills. She chalked it up to the cool temperature in the lab, then decided she was catching a cold. By the end of July, she was running a fever, coughing and having trouble breathing. Her doctor diagnosed a respiratory infection and prescribed antibiotics.

Instead of getting better, she grew worse. On Aug. 5, she went without her husband to the emergency room at Fairview Hospital. Doctors admitted her immediately and kept her for more than a week. "They thought I was going to die," she said.

While she was in the hospital, her husband moved out of their Cleveland home and into an apartment in Beachwood. Finally, doctors confirmed she had had HIV for years and that it had developed into AIDS. She ordered her family out of her hospital room, and, as she cried, she remembered a fight she once had with her husband.

"He said, 'One of these days you're going to get what's coming to you,' " she said. "I told him, 'If you hurt me in any kind of way, I'm going to press charges.' "

She had never thought he would do anything to hurt her, but now that she inexplicably had AIDS, she went to Cleveland police. Officers pulled her husband's medical records, which revealed that he had been getting treatment for HIV since at least 2004, the year they married.

It was then that Castro abandoned his victim. He was charged in October, and this exchange occurred on Castro's 51st birthday, when the victim's 7 year old adopted son sent Castro a card. "I said, 'What, were you waiting for me to die? I was at the hospital and you didn't even tell me. That way they can take care of me right away rather than me waiting 10 days [in the hospital] to figure it out so they can give me the right medicine.'

The hospitailzations and treatment cost the woman her job as a dialysis worker. SHe sold her wedding ring to support her family, including the 7 year old boy. However, she still needs assistance in getting the divorce finalized. When one of her older children got married earlier this year and their HIV tests came back healthy, "I cried the whole ceremony. I'm not going to let this destroy me."

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