A man accused of randomly shooting at people driving along the I-96 corridor in suburban Detroit and beyond in October was arraigned this afternoon on assault and terrorism charges.
Raulie Casteel, 43, of Wixom appeared from jail via video in Livingston County’s 53rd District Court in Howell.
Wearing orange jail garb with a white undershirt, Casteel spoke in a clear voice when Judge John Pikkarainen asked whether he was Raulie Casteel.
“Yes, your honor, I am,” Casteel responded.
His attorney, Doug Mullkoff, waived a formal reading of the charges that include terrorism, assault with intent to murder and five weapons-related charges during the arraignment that lasted just three minutes.
The terrorism charge, which carries a penalty of up to life in prison if convicted, is based on 21 attacks, said Joy Yearout, spokeswoman for state Attorney General’s Office.
Casteel pleaded not guilty to all the charges and waived his right to have a preliminary examination to be held within 14 days. His bond remains at $2 million.
Casteel’s wife sat in the front row of the courtroom today, behind the prosecutor’s table and quietly walked out of the courtroom without speaking to reporters.
“His wife is not planning to make any comment,” Mullkoff told reporters. Mullkoff also declined to comment about the case after the hearing.
Casteel is accused of shooting at 24 people, mostly motorists, on Oct. 16-18 and Oct. 27 in Oakland, Livingston, Shiawassee and Ingham counties.
One person was struck and injured driving on I-96 near Fowlerville during the shootings. Police have said Casteel fired a gun at oncoming cars while he was driving.
Ingham County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Joel Maatman investigated the shootings and called the terrorism charge rare.
“But, I think it’s very applicable to what all occurred,” he said.
He said the shootings put people on edge and caused drivers to change their normal routes.
“No matter how this turns out, I would like to know why,” Maatman said after court.
Casteel’s mother previously told the Free Press that she believed her son was mentally ill.
Court records show Casteel lost his job in 2010 and was living with his in-laws in Wixom after moving back to Michigan from Kentucky with his young daughter and wife, who supported him financially.
The Attorney General’s Office is handling the prosecution of the cases in Ingham, Livingston and Shiawassee counties. The county-level charges previously filed in Livingston against Casteel were dismissed and replaced with charges filed by the attorney general, officials said.
Casteel also faces 60 counts in Oakland County, including assault with intent to murder.