Thurston County Watch

A Yelm firefighter facing charges of second-degree assault after allegedly beating up a friend back in September will have his jury trial in July after several months of delay.

Lance Casto, a firefighter with Southeast Thurston Fire Authority, was arrested Sept. 21 at his Bucoda home for allegedly assaulting a friend. His trial in Thurston County Superior Court is set for July 15 with a confirmation hearing on July 3, according to court records. Casto has pleaded not guilty.

Casto was released Sept. 24 on $5,000 bail, according to court records.

For the last eight months, the fire authority has also been paying Casto’s $6,600 a month salary while he is on administrative leave.

Southeast Thurston Fire Chief Mark King said an administrative review will begin once the judicial process for Casto has concluded. He said he understands if taxpayers are frustrated by the process. 

"Good, bad or indifferent, it is a part of the process," King said. "I don't think people understand all the moving parts behind the curtain." 

King said Casto is not allowed to sustain communication with SETFA during his leave. 

Casto has been a firefighter with Southeast Thurston Fire Authority since 2003. His personnel file, obtained through a public records request by the NVN last year, shows a documented history of alcohol use, run-ins with the law and concerns about anger issues.

He was arrested on Sept. 21, 2018, at his Bucoda home for allegedly assaulting a friend and injuring him so badly he had to go to the hospital for a broken nose, fractured cheekbone, broken teeth and lacerations to his feet, face and head.

According to charging papers, the victim’s wife called police at about 10:30 p.m. the night of the alleged assault and reported her husband had been assaulted by Casto. The woman told police that the couple ran into Casto while having dinner at a local bar in Bucoda. After dinner and a few drinks, the three headed out to check out some hunting spots. Along the way, the woman told police Casto hit on her and put his hand on her thigh. Her husband called him on it. The woman said “it seemed like a switch went off” with Casto and he went from really nice to extremely agitated and aggressive. He brought up his time in the Marines and questioned her husband’s manhood. Casto allegedly drove the couple to their home and without warning, he pulled the man out of the truck and started beating on him.

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Reporting from the Nisqually Valley News archives was used in this report.

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