Sarasota Police Victim Advocate Castro wins state award from Attorney General Ashley Moody

Castro specifically cited for her efforts related to 1988 murder

Sarasota Police Department Victim Advocate Jude Castro holds the award she received from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. Image courtesy Sarasota Police Department

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has honored Sarasota Police Victim Advocate Jude Castro with the Attorney General’s Distinguished Victims Services Award in recognition of Castro’s efforts to assist crime victims in the city of Sarasota, the Police Department has announced.

Moody specifically put the spotlight on Castro’s work in conjunction with the 1988 murder of a woman, a news release says.

Castro is one of seven law enforcement professionals being honored throughout the state, the release adds. A virtual awards ceremony was held on April 21, the release notes.

“We are honored, proud, and excited for this honor for Jude and the Sarasota Police Department,” said Chief Jim Rieser in the release. “I hired Jude, and she has been an amazing person at our agency. … She lives and breathes victim advocacy and we’re so proud of her,” added Rieser in the release.

“In 2013, with advances in forensic testing, a break came in the 1988 case that led to a suspect,” the release explains. Castro then found and contacted the sister of the victim, it adds.

“Over the next five years, as more evidence was gathered,” the release continues, “Castro stayed in touch with the victim’s sister, notifying her of updates or just to touch base with no update.”

“Castro built a strong rapport with the victim’s sister, which allowed the victim’s sister to feel connected to the case, the process, and the people involved,” the release notes.

In 2018, David Stephens was charged with the murder of the victim, Judith Doherty, the release adds.

When the four-day trial was conducted in January 2020, the release says, the victim’s sister came to Sarasota. “Castro drove the victim’s sister to and from the courthouse daily and accompanied her throughout the trial, providing support and assisting her in understanding the trial process,” the release explains. Castro and the victim’s sister waited together as the jury deliberated “and shared relief when a guilty verdict was delivered,” the release adds.

At the time of the trial, the release points out, “the victim’s sister was the only surviving member of her family left to see justice for Judith.”

Castro also assisted the victim’s sister in drafting her Victim Impact Statement, which the sister read to the court during the sentencing hearing via Zoom in October 2020, the release notes. In the days before that hearing, the release adds, Castro created multiple test Zoom meetings in an effort “to avoid any technical difficulties” on the day of the proceeding, the release says.

Castro continues to stay up-to-date on David Stephen’s appeal process, to offer the latest information to the victim’s sister, the release adds.