Case against Clearfield santero dismissed

Published July 5, 2011 4:59 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Prosecutors have dropped the case against a Santería clergyman accused of keeping two human skulls in a shed behind his Clearfield home, saying they want to further investigate the case's constitutional issues.

Roberto Casillas-Corrales, 53, was charged in March with two counts of desecration of a human body, a second-degree felony, after the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force went looking for drugs in the man's home, but instead reportedly found hundreds of pounds of animal bones, flesh and blood, and the two skulls.

In documents filed last week in 2nd District Court, prosecutors asked Judge David Connors to dismiss the case because "due to the constitutional issues further investigation is needed."

"From the start there was a freedom of religion issue," said Deputy Davis County Attorney Kathi Sjoberg. "Then there's some question as to whether or not the process that he went through [in obtaining the skulls] was unlawful."

The judge dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning charges could be filed again in the future.

According to police, Casillas-Corrales claimed to be a santero, a clergyman of the Caribbean religious tradition Santería.

The animal parts, from goats and sheep, were for religious purposes, the 53-year-old Casillas-Corrales reportedly told police, and so were the skulls.

The man said he purchased two human skulls for $3,500, charging documents state. The animals were reported to have been purchased alive, then killed during religious ceremonies in the shed.

Police also took 20 machetes, three knives, a hatchet and a claw hammer from the shed.



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