Judge wants testimony in student case

CONYERS -- Rockdale County Chief Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation wants to have witnesses called to court before he decides the punishment for a former high school student who beat up another student on campus.

Manuel Jesus Castillo, 18, of Conyers entered a guilty plea to aggravated battery before the judge Aug. 20. The charge stemmed from an August 2009 incident in which Castillo assaulted another boy in one of the restrooms at Heritage High School during lunchtime.

According to court documents, the victim was knocked unconscious and had a broken jaw.

Reports from law enforcement said three boys reported the incident to a school resource officer, who found the then-16-year-old victim unconscious. When questioned by authorities, Castillo reportedly admitted to hitting the victim with his fist. A text message received after the altercation indicated the situation may have started from some name-calling between the victim and Castillo, the report said. The text message reportedly came from a Rockdale County High School student and was sent to the victim's phone while the victim was in the hospital.

Before Nation passed sentence, the judge said Aug. 20 that he wanted state prosecutors to subpoena students from the school to testify about the text messaging and other events leading up to the assault.

The sentencing hearing was set for 2 p.m. Sept. 2.