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With killer set to die, pain lingers for victim's twin

By KATHRYN WEXLER

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 7, 2000


TAMPA -- It has been 14 years since Edward Castro sat down with Columbia County investigators and boasted about how he killed a St. Petersburg interior designer.

"With a butcher knife. Is there any more coffee?" Castro said, according to a transcript of the confession.

Castro is scheduled to die by lethal injection tonight at the Florida state prison just outside Starke.

But it wasn't for the murder of the St. Petersburg man, George Larry Hill, that Castro landed on death row. A Pinellas County jury sentenced Castro, now 50, to life in prison. Castro will be executed for killing an Ocala man. That makes no difference, so long as Castro dies, said Hill's identical twin, Nathan Jerry Hill.

"I'm just glad the S.O.B.'s dying," said Hill, sitting in his north Tampa apartment and crying over the news and the old aching it stirred. "And I'd like to take my shotgun and take a shot."

Though their lives intersected one night over beer in a gay bar in St. Petersburg, Castro and "Larry" Hill moved in different worlds.

Castro was a drifter from San Diego, warped by a childhood of hunger and sexual abuse, his public defender told the jury. With his hankering for liquor and easy money, Castro developed a special fondness for preying on vulnerable, gay men.

Hill came from a large Illinois family and graduated from college up north, said Nathan Hill. He designed bank lobbies, office buildings and big homes. He dressed sharply, cooked gourmet meals. He vacationed in Spain, his brother said.

"I worked for a living; he jet-setted," said Nathan Hill, who joined the Air Force and later worked for Eastern Airlines until it shut down.

Castro said Hill was leery when they met Jan. 5, 1987. But after some convincing, Hill took him back to the place he shared with a doctor on Palm Lane N. "Hey, man, you've only got one life to give. Pick a spot," he told a terrified Hill, then tied him up. He stabbed him four times, "right in the heart." Nathan Hill and his siblings couldn't sit through the trial.

"I've never been so sick in my life," said Hill, 64. "A twin feels pain of another twin."

A few days after killing Larry Hill, Castro hitched a ride to Ocala, where he strangled, then stabbed to death another man he met in a bar, Austin Scott, 56. He bolted north on Interstate 75, bound for New Orleans. Before Castro crossed the Florida border, a Columbia County deputy pulled him over for disorderly intoxication.

During Castro's taped confession, he said he'd killed yet another man, months before he slashed Hill. Castro gave details about the death of Claude J. Henderson of Polk County. Prosecutors didn't charge Castro because he had already been sentenced to death.

-- Times staff writer Cary Davis and Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

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