La Mesa mother sentenced in son’s death — (SIGN ON SAN DIEGO)

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SIGN ON SAN DIEGO NEWS SERVICES

3:48 p.m., May 5, 2003

EL CAJON  A mother who said she suffocated her 7-year-old son so she could send him to heaven and protect him from other adults was sentenced today to 11 years in prison.
Anita Castellanos, 26, withdrew her insanity plea last month and pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. She had faced a murder charge for the May 28, 2002, death of her son, Christopher Castillo.
Superior Court Judge Herbert Exarhos set a future hearing to decide if the defendant owes for burial costs.
The night the child died, Castellanos wondered aloud whether she had done the right thing by killing him, La Mesa police Officer Sandra Haymes testified at a preliminary hearing last August.
The defendant put a knife to her chest and threatened to kill herself, but family members intervened, police said.
The child’s body was discovered in a sleeping bag in the apartment he and his mother shared.
Castellanos suffers from mental problems and was taking anti-depressants, defense attorney Cynthia Bolden said.
Family members said after the boy’s death that they had seen signs of emotional distress in Castellanos, but were unable to provide help.
The victim’s father said his ex-wife feared that a former boyfriend was going to hurt her and her son.