15-year-old Raul Castro sentenced to 33-years-to-life

FRESNO, Calif.

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In April, a judge convicted 15 year old Raul Castro for the 2009 murder and sexual assault of Alex Mercado. The boy's body was found inside a clothes dryer after a long search for the missing child.

Raul Castro showed no emotion while several members of the victim's family cried as they spoke about their heartache.

Alex's mother says even happy moments aren't the same since her son was murdered and left cold and lifeless in a dryer. "I hug his clothes, i smell his shoes, and i hold his little toys. Then I do know that there are no words to describe the longing I feel for my precious little child."

Mindy Betancourt Mercado says on many days she struggles to even get up. "I have spent countless nights that I lay in bed and shed my tears for him. I will never be the person I was before. I find it hard at times to enjoy life like I used to only now I wear a smile of disguise."

Ten days before his murder, Alex wrote his name for the first time and made a self-portrait, complete with spiked hair. Alex's teenage brother told the court Alex loved to horse around and play games.

"He is the brightest boy who loved everybody," said James Betancourt. "We used to wrestle in my bedroom and I can remember him telling me that he wanted big muscles like mine."

Outside court, Castro's mother says she feels sympathy for Alex's family, but she too is devastated.

"I do feel for the family because their son's not coming home ever," said Elsa Castro. "He was a special kid. Their son is special and so is mine. And i don't have any regrets of anything. But i do have a broken heart for them, because i do have a feeling for them."

Alex's mother had harsh words for the boy who ended her son's life. She called him a monster and took note of his lack of remorse. "As for Raul, I didn't need to see him cry or even shed a tear during the trial. He will have to live with what he did. His mother will have to carry the guilt of knowing she could have prevented all this had she rewarded him differently."

Alex's brother, James said, "If i could have one more day with Alex, i would make it the best day of his life. It is sometimes too hard to say goodbye."

The judge said that if the words of family members haven't hit Castro, then maybe his words would not, either. But he warned him some day the impact of what he has done will dawn on him.

After his lengthy sentence, when Castro is released, he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.


Listen to statements from Alex Mercado's family

RAW VIDEO: Alex Mercado's Mom, Mindy Betancourt Mercado
RAW VIDEO: Alex Mercado's Brother, James Betancourt
RAW VIDEO: Alex Mercado's Aunt, Susan Betancourt

Listen to a statement from Raul Castro's mother

RAW VIDEO: Raul Castro's Mom, Elsa Castro


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