By ED WHITE
HOWELL, Mich. (AP) -- A man who turned a Michigan fall into a season
of fear by firing at about two dozen vehicles near a busy highway was
convicted of terrorism Wednesday as a jury rejected his claim that the
shootings were the impulsive result of wild, uncontrolled delusions and
The jury deliberated over parts of two days before returning a
verdict against Raulie Casteel, 44, of Wixom, who faces up to life in
prison when he returns to Livingston County court on March 3.
"The victims of his shooting spree received justice," state Attorney General Bill Schuette said.
Testifying in his own defense, Casteel admitted that he repeatedly
fired his gun at vehicles in four counties near the busy Interstate 96
corridor between Lansing and Detroit, over a three-day period in October
No one was hurt, but the hunt for a gunman dominated headlines for
days, persuading travelers to change their habits and even forcing many
schools to keep children inside at recess.
"I can't testify to the number, but I did fire at cars, yes," said
Casteel, who kept a handgun on the floorboard near his right leg.
Casteel, a geologist, told jurors Monday that 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
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.
As the verdict was read, Casteel's sister sobbed loudly in the
courtroom. Later, one of his victims said the outcome brought her a
sense of relief.
"I'm just happy that everybody can be safe now. ... Imagine being shot at. It's not fun," Jennifer Kupiec told reporters.
Jurors considered an attempted murder charge against Casteel for
shooting at Kupiec's car but instead convicted him of a lesser charge of
assault with a dangerous weapon. He didn't contest five gun charges
after police matched the weapon to bullet fragments recovered from
After the verdict, Casteel's defense team accused prosecutors of piling on charges.
"We're disappointed. We contested this because we thought this was an
overcharge," attorney Doug Mullkoff said of the terrorism charge.
In a separate but related case, Casteel is due in Oakland County
court on Tuesday to be sentenced for shootings that occurred in that
county. He pleaded no contest but mentally ill to assault and firearms
charges last year and faces up to 12 years in prison. No terrorism
charge was filed by the county prosecutor there.
A no contest plea isn't an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
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.
Kupiec's mother, Kelly Kupiec, said Casteel may never have the honor
of watching his daughter get married, depending on the length of his
"His whole family is destroyed," she said. "I don't have sympathy for him. I have sympathy for his family."