Prosecutors granted immunity Friday to a witness charged with making false statements after he testified Thursday that tips he gave police in 2011 about a murder and racketeering case were all lies.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Al Whitaker said he would drop the charge against Darrin Huntley and grant him immunity for anything else he said on the stand.
Whitaker made the offer as defense attorneys Friday moved for a mistrial when Huntley, having been arrested upon leaving the witness stand Thursday, took the stand again and invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when they tried to cross-examine him.
Carrollton attorney Suellen Fleming, who represents Jamal Castille, said her inability to cross-examine Huntley violated her client’s Constitutional right to due process of law, as his defense would suffer without Huntley’s additional testimony. Attorney Cynthia Lain, who represents Daphene Castille, joined in Fleming’s motion for a mistrial, as did Tim Flournoy, who represents Dantrell Marshall.
Flournoy said Huntley was “in grave danger” of incurring more charges such as perjury, and needed his own attorney to protect his rights. Robin King, a public defender who previously represented Huntley, was summoned to advise him.
Judge William Rumer held the mistrial motions in reserve after Whitaker promised Huntley immunity.
Huntley returned to the witness stand about 3:30 p.m. Friday and again insisted he lied to police when he fed them information on the 2008 bank robbery and homicide for which Daphne and Jamal Castille and Dantrell Marshall are now on trial.
The three also are charged with racketeering for allegedly operating a criminal enterprise involving robbery, homicide, cocaine dealing, witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The offense commonly is referred to as “RICO,” a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act aimed at organized crime.
Prosecutors claim Huntley is recanting his earlier statements out of fear of reprisal from the Castilles, having been attacked April 1 of this year while he was in the Muscogee County Jail.
Huntley testified that about 11:50 a.m. that day, he was put into an eight-man cell in a jail dormitory holding about 40 inmates. He went straight to sleep, awoke for breakfast at 5 a.m., then stood outside the cell for roll call before returning to his bunk.
The next time he woke up, he was being stabbed by another inmate he didn’t know, he said.
A cellmate who witnessed the attack said Jamal Castille, who was in the same cell, came in that morning with his face covered, tapped Huntley on the shoulder and first stabbed him in the mouth before wounding him elsewhere. Castille had kept the “shank” or homemade knife hidden in a greeting card, the witness said.
The cellmate said he asked Castille why he stabbed Huntley: “All he said was the guy had snitched on his mother,” the witness recalled. Prosecutors said Huntley had told police Daphene Castille was involved in the bank robbery and the homicide, and provided other details.
Much of Friday’s testimony focused on the Sept. 22, 2008, fatal shooting of police informant David Coleman Jr. in an apartment at 730 Lawyers Lane.
Police Sgt. Harvey Hatcher said Coleman called him two days after the Sept. 10, 2008, armed robbery of a CB&T bank branch at 5445 Forrest Road and told him Marshall and Jamal Castille committed the heist.
Hatcher said Coleman told him the suspects had asked him to join in the robbery, and when he refused, they asked him to provide guns. He refused that also, Hatcher testified.
Coleman told Hatcher the bank robbers had two black revolvers, one with a cracked wooden grip; they used a car they had rented by giving crack cocaine to the owner, whom he knew only as “Ron”; and Marshall wore a maroon, orange and yellow cap with a “jigsaw” design, as if it had puzzle pieces on it, the sergeant said.
Hatcher said Coleman showed him where the Castilles lived at 852 Englewood Drive and took him to where the blue Chevrolet Cavalier used in the bank robbery was abandoned at Church Avenue and Spenola Street, just a block from the apartments at 730 Lawyers Lane, where Coleman later was gunned down.
The car belonged to Ron Samuel, whom Daphene Castille paid crack cocaine to report it stolen when its description was broadcast on the news right after the robbery, authorities said.
Hatcher said Coleman had been a paid police informant on other cases, four or five of which involved Hatcher. “He knew me,” the sergeant said. “He had provided information before.”
When Flournoy asked why Coleman kept working for the police, Hatcher replied: “He liked getting paid.”
Police later searched the Castille home on Englewood Drive, seeking evidence such as the revolver with a cracked handle Daphene Castille allegedly kept there, Hatcher said. They did not find it, and left copies of the search warrant there.
Prosecutors claim Daphene Castille determined from the warrant that Coleman was the informant, and she wanted him dead.
Huntley in 2011 told police she offered him $10,000-$15,000 to kill Coleman, but he declined. On the witness stand this week, he said that was a lie, too.
Forensic pathologist Steven Atkinson, who conducted Coleman’s autopsy, testified five or six bullets hit Coleman, the number uncertain because one bullet may have caused two wounds, traveling through an arm before hitting Coleman’s torso.
The “most grievous wound” came from a bullet that entered Coleman’s left chest above the heart and traveled diagonally through his torso, striking his sternum, right carotid artery, right lung and a rib before lodging in the right side of his back, the pathologist said.
Three bullets each entered and exited Coleman’s left forearm, left knee and right thigh, Atkinson said. He said the one that went through Coleman’s arm may have lodged in the right side of his abdominal wall or grazed his torso just above his belly, or those wounds may be from separate bullets.
Catherine Jordan, a crime lab firearms examiner, said the two bullets recovered from Coleman’s body were both .380 caliber and came from the same gun.
Prosecutors maintain Daphene Castille and her codefendants planned the bank robbery so they’d have cash to get back into dealing crack after losing a cocaine shipment confiscated July 12, 2008, when a Texas trooper stopped Marshall, Daphene Castille and a man named Johnerson Adams on Interstate 10 east of Houston.
Testimony showed the robbers got $196,000 from the bank’s vault. One was wearing a multicolored cap with a puzzle-piece design, though Flournoy maintains Marshall, whom witnesses identified as the cap’s owner, never entered the bank and stayed in the car.
Police said the robber wearing the cap was Terrell Mars, whom some witnesses called Daphene Castille’s “boyfriend,” and the other was Jamal Castille. Mars is not on trial this week because he has made a deal to testify for the prosecution.
Today Judge Rumer has scheduled a rare Saturday court session that begins at 9:30 a.m. in his Government Center courtroom. The trial is to continue Sunday afternoon as well.