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Freeway shooter gets up to 40 years in prison

HOWELL, Mich. – A man who kept a swath of southeast Michigan on edge for weeks by shooting at two dozen vehicles along a busy highway corridor was sentenced to 16 to 40 years in prison on a terrorism conviction Monday.

Raulie Casteel learned his fate in Livingston County Circuit Court, where a jury in January found him guilty of terrorism, rejecting his claim that the shootings were the impulsive result of uncontrolled delusions and paranoia.

Casteel, 44, already is serving a six-plus-year sentence that stemmed from a related case in neighboring Oakland County.

During the Livingston County trial, Casteel testified that he shot at the other motorists on Interstate 96 and nearby roads between Lansing and Detroit during a three-day period in October 2012. Testifying in his own defense, Casteel said he was consumed with anxiety while in traffic, most likely from undiagnosed delusions. He said he believed drivers were part of a government conspiracy against him.

Casteel said he never thought about the consequences of the shootings, only that he wanted “to send a message to back off.”

Defense lawyers pleaded for an acquittal on the terrorism charge, arguing there was no premeditation as required by law, but the jury disagreed.

The terrorism charge brought by the state attorney general’s office covered all the shootings in Livingston, Shiawassee, Ingham and Oakland counties.

Casteel had faced 60 charges, including attempted murder, in Oakland County in connection with shootings in Commerce Township and Wixom before pleading no contest but mentally ill to assault and firearms charges last year.

Casteel’s lawyers and family members favored a plea deal, because it allows him to receive the mental health counseling he wants.

Defense attorney Doug Mullkoff has said his client was diagnosed with delusional disorder, a condition associated with maintaining false, persistent beliefs despite evidence to the contrary.

Casteel is a St. Johns, Mich., native who lived in Taylorsville, Ky., before returning to Michigan in 2012 to live with his wife’s family.

Police in Kentucky said they had no contact with him until June 2012, when he became agitated and complained about aircraft flying too low over his house. No one else had reported low-flying planes.

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