St. Paul man pleads guilty to stabbing wife to death during Bible study

20 March 2024

A St. Paul man has pleaded guilty to stabbing his wife to death during Bible study at his sister’s East Side home a year ago.

Robert Castillo’s plea to second-degree intentional murder on Monday came about three weeks before he was to stand trial for the attack on Corrina Woodhull in the city’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood.

Robert Castillo (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

According to the plea petition, prosecutors agreed to ask for no more than 33 years and three months in prison at his sentencing, which is set for June 24. His attorney can argue for less time.

Castillo, 41, has eight prior felony convictions, including second-degree assault for hitting another woman on her head and arms with a hammer in St. Paul in 2014. He received a 10-year sentence. Inmates in Minnesota serve two-thirds of their prison sentence incarcerated and the remaining third on supervised release.

At the time of the knife attack, Castillo was on intensive supervised release and wanted on a Department of Corrections warrant after he failed to show up at a court hearing on charges that he assaulted two correctional officers at the Stillwater prison in 2020.

No ‘signs of hostility’

The criminal complaint says the couple was sitting on a couch March 21, 2023, when Castillo whispered something in Woodhull’s ear. After she shook her head “no,” Castillo pulled out a hunting knife and stabbed her multiple times. She was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital.

An autopsy found Woodhull, 41, had a stab wound to her chest that penetrated her breast and heart, and additional sharp-force injuries to her face, chest and upper extremities.

Castillo’s sister told police they host Bible study at her home every Tuesday night and Woodhull and Castillo came over for it. They “were acting normally” and Castillo held Woodhull’s hand and kissed her, the complaint says.

Corrina Woodhull (Courtesy photo)

They’d been at the home for about 90 minutes before the stabbing and Castillo’s brother also said he hadn’t seen “signs of hostility.” When he returned from the bathroom, he saw Castillo standing over Woodhull with a knife in his hand.

Castillo’s sister said she saw Castillo stab Woodhull with a hunting knife with a 6-inch blade. She grabbed his hair and tried to pull him off Woodhull. Other family members also intervened and disarmed him.

Witnesses said they didn’t hear what Castillo said to Woodhull.

The couple was no longer together because they were having marital problems, Castillo’s brother told police.

Investigators later asked Castillo what happened with Woodhull and he replied, “I don’t want to discuss,” the complaint says. He said they’d been married for a couple of years and lived together until about a month ago.

A GoFundMe page set up last year by Woodhull’s friend says she was a mother of five children and an advocate for those in substance use recovery and others experiencing domestic abuse.

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