License to Stalk

A judge said Lucia Diaz should be force-medicated to control her psychosis. Instead, she was turned loose to terrorize.

"I'm going to have your baby," she told him loudly.

Police arrested Diaz on a disorderly conduct charge. A judge sentenced her that July to one year of probation. Within a few months, however, Diaz again was phoning the doctor.

On Halloween night, Glendale police again responded to Castro's office. This time, Diaz had come by and fixed the doctor in a relentless bear hug.

Jeff Miracola
Superior Court Judge Michael McVey: "This court will . . . do everything it can to protect human safety and human life."
courtesy of Maricopa County Superior Court
Superior Court Judge Michael McVey: "This court will . . . do everything it can to protect human safety and human life."

Diaz told an officer that Castro had been controlling her life since the birth of her fourth child. She said he'd "created" a woman in her image with whom he could have intimate relations.

Now she faced a misdemeanor assault charge. In December 1994, a judge again put Diaz on a year's probation and warned her to stay away from Castro's office.

Three days later, Tolleson police arrested her after a high-speed car chase. It happened after Diaz couldn't find her estranged husband at his job site.

"There's a lot that I don't remember about that time," she says. "I just know I wasn't feeling good."

Diaz pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, and was put on two years' probation (that made three concurrent probation sentences).

She apparently steered clear of Dr. Castro for about a year. In 1996, Diaz successfully completed probation on the resisting-arrest charge. She was working as a supermarket cashier.

But on December 31, 1996, someone broke the front window to Castro's office. He suspected Diaz, but police didn't pursue the matter.

A few months later, in late February 1997, Maricopa Medical Center (MMC) officials admitted Diaz to the hospital psychiatric ward on a petition for a court-ordered mental evaluation.

That's one legal step short of court-ordered treatment.

Doctors filed the petition after Diaz overdosed on Tylenol, then left a hospital against medical advice.

According to a document filed by an MMC doctor, "[Diaz] later called 911 and asked for help, describing to police and urgent care clinical staff about a delusional system involving an OB/GYN doctor, mannequins, robots and computer controls."

Diaz vehemently denied that she was sick, and refused to take any medications at the hospital. By law, she had the right to do so until a judge committed her to undergo treatment.

But Diaz was released just two weeks later, though she still was "psychotic," according to MMC documents. She went to stay in Glendale with a man with whom she had become involved.

Diaz met with a ComCare doctor within a few days of her release. On March 24, 1997, that doctor wrote:

"[Diaz] shows no insights. Insists she is not ill, that the info given the judge was lies. She says the medicine is ruining her life and health. She does reveal continuing delusional thinking, but denies auditory hallucinations. Refill meds."

Exactly a week later, someone again broke Dr. Castro's office windows, and police found a sledgehammer at the scene. Castro obtained a restraining order against Diaz from Glendale City Court.

That April 7, a ComCare doctor wrote, "[Diaz] has not been taking the medication. Today, she is upset and complaining that Dr. Castro is using a computer to change people's minds. Patient refused any medication."

Still, none of these mental-health officials took steps to rehospitalize Diaz.

On May 28, a ComCare doctor again indicated Diaz wasn't taking her medication. The next evening, someone smashed four windows at Castro's office. More windows were broken two weeks later. Glendale police named Diaz as a suspect, but didn't track her down for questioning.

Convinced that the police and mental-health systems were doing nothing to protect him, Castro hired a security guard and installed video cameras outside his office. A few of his frightened employees quit.

"Fear leaves a bitter taste in your mouth," he later told Judge McVey. "It leaves a lifelong taste in your mouth."

After two more window-breaking incidents in August 1997, Castro arrived August 29 to find his exterior office walls spray-painted in black.

Someone -- he was sure it was Lucia Diaz -- also painted the following words over the doctor's sign: "I did it because I love."

On September 9, Diaz made her monthly trek to the ComCare offices for a short visit with a staff psychiatrist.

She repeated irritably what she'd long been saying -- that she wasn't going to take her medications. He diagnosed her as a paranoid schizophrenic, among other mental maladies.

"Patient refused all meds," the doctor wrote. "Will pursue court-order[ed] medication."

Trouble was, Diaz already was under court-ordered treatment.

But no one in authority seemed to know or care about that.

At 10:30 p.m. September 20, 1997, Glendale police again responded to Ronald Castro's office. The stakes were higher this time.

A janitor there said she'd seen a Hispanic woman smashing the doctor's windows with a large object. The woman then fired a handgun at the doors and windows, at which time the janitor had ducked to avoid harm.

The police found nine bullet holes through the front windows and door, and eight bullet holes in the office's back door.

Ronald Castro soon showed up and retrieved a videotape from his security camera. It showed Diaz breaking the windows with a sledgehammer. He provided officers copies of harassing letters that Diaz had sent him, and of the seven prior police reports written in response to incidents and vandalism at his office.

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