Silver Spring doctor sentenced for killing social worker helping him with mental disorder

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ROCKVILLE, Md. — A man and former doctor convicted of killing a woman who visited his home to help him with a mental disorder has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

John Lutz, 79, was arrested for the killing of Nicole Castro in 2002 and charged with First Degree Murder. The trial was put on hold because it was determined by mental health professionals that he wasn’t fit to stand trial until last year.

A spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office in Montgomery County said the office fought against granting Lutz a life sentence with the option of parole.

“If he were to be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole he could have been out in as few as three or four months because he has already served some time,” said Ramon Korionoff. “There would have to be been a social worker or parole officer or someone from the mental health system watching over him [if he were released] and that’s the same setting that Castro was in when she was killed.”

Castro, 23, was stabbed by Lutz dozens of times after her third visit with her patient. Castro was reported missing by loved ones then police tracked her car to Lutz’ parking lot and found her body near a dumpster in his apartment complex.

Korionoff said surviving family members of Castro hope that this conviction will help remind the health care industry how important it is to value the safety of workers when dealing with the mentally ill.

“That sending out social workers in groups of 2 or 3 might be more helpful both for the patient and the safety of the workers,” said Korionoff.