Around 2 a.m. Monday, Sept. 22, 2008, a 20-year-old David Coleman of Columbus heard a noise at his bedroom window in an apartment on Lawyers Lane.
When he walked over to investigate, a fusillade of bullets fired from outside hit him six times, wounding him in the stomach, chest and arms before he staggered into a niece’s bedroom and collapsed, police said.
In an hour, he was dead. This week three suspects in Coleman’s killing go to trial on charges of murder and racketeering. Authorities allege the three schemed to rob a bank to make up for losing $42,500 in cocaine that was to be smuggled from Texas to Georgia, and to eliminate Coleman as a suspected police informant.
Jury selection in Superior Court Judge William Rumer’s Government Center courtroom began Monday.
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The defendants are Daphene Ann Castille, her son Jamal Hakeem Castille and Dantrell Cornelius Marshall. A fourth defendant, Terrell Maurice Mars, has made a deal with prosecutors to testify against the others and was not in court Monday.
Investigators said the case involves a series of events that occurred over the summer and fall of 2008, starting with Texas officials’ seizing the cocaine shipment from Marshall and Daphene Castille in July 2008, leaving them in need of cash.
So they decided to rob a bank, police said. Borrowing a blue Chevrolet Cavalier, they had Mars and Jamal Castille hit the Columbus Bank & Trust branch at 5445 Forrest Road on Sept. 10, 2008, taking about $200,000, investigators said.
Fearing too many witnesses could describe the Cavalier, they persuaded the owner to report it stolen, officers said. Learning police still were onto them, they decided Coleman was acting as an informant, so they had him killed, police said.
Eliminating Coleman did not throw investigators off their trail: On Oct. 17, 2008, authorities arrested Daphene and Jamal Castille and Mars, charging them with bank robbery and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Investigators said Jamal Castille forced bank customers to the floor and bound their wrists with plastic strips as Mars forced the manager to give him access to the vault. Mars at the time was on probation for the 1999 robbery of a Regions bank in Columbus.
On April 19, 2009, Jamal Castille and two other inmates escaped from the Harris County jail. They were recaptured the following April 27 in Liberty County, Ga.
Because bank robbery is a federal offense, federal agents pressed charges: In February 2010, Mars was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for the robbery. In June 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land sentenced Jamal Castille to 20 years in federal prison for the robbery and for escape.Meanwhile Columbus police continued to probe Coleman’s homicide, finally linking it to the robbery.
On Sept. 20, 2012, they charged Daphene Castille and Marshall with Coleman’s slaying. That led to additional charges against Jamal Castille and Terrell Mars.
On Dec. 27, 2012, a Muscogee grand jury indicted the suspects on charges of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly called RICO, alleging they were involved in murder, armed robbery, drug dealing and obstruction of justice.