Two of the three defendants on trial for murder and racketeering this week have elected to testify in their own defense.
Dantrell Marshall and Daphene Castille told Muscogee Superior Court Judge William Rumer they will take the witness stand in the trial, now in its second week after continuing through the weekend. A third defendant, Castille’s son Jamal Castille, said he would reserve the right to testify, but did not want to decide that Monday.
During Monday’s testimony, the court heard again from Terrell Mars, a codefendant in the case who is a prosecution witness and not on trial. Monday marked Mars’ third day on the stand after Saturday and Sunday.
He testified that Dantrell Marshall helped Jamal Castille gun down 20-year-old police informant David Coleman on Sept. 22, 2008, at 730 Lawyers Lane. He said he saw Jamal Castille that day with two guns, a .40-caliber and a .380-caliber, before Castille left an aunt’s house on Sixth Street and did not return until hours later.
Sometime after that, he and Jamal Castille drove over the 13th Street bridge to Phenix City, turned north along the river, stopped near some apartments and threw the guns into the Chattahoochee River, Mars said.
He said his codefendants wanted Coleman killed because the informant was feeding police information on the Sept. 10, 2008, armed robbery of a CB&T bank branch formerly located at 5445 Forrest Road. Mars said he and Jamal Castille committed the robbery while Marshall drove their getaway car.
Authorities say Daphene Castille planned the bank robbery because she lost about $42,000 worth of cocaine during a traffic stop in Texas on July 12, 2008, and needed cash to pay a lawyer and to buy more cocaine.
Another of Jamal Castille’s former jail associates, Merrick Redding, testified Castille also told him about shooting Coleman, whom Castille referred to as “Li’l Dave” who was “running his mouth” about the bank robbery.
“Jamal shot Li’l Dave through the window,” Redding said. “He had to do what he had to do.”
As defense attorneys began to question his character, Redding admitted he’d been jailed repeatedly for traffic offenses such as driving without a license — at one point being released from jail on a Friday before police caught him driving the following Sunday and put him back in jail.
“I’ve been arrested many times, if that’s what you’re asking,” he told Jamal Castille’s attorney Suellen Fleming.
He drew laughter when Fleming asked whether he got any “credit” for cooperating with police questioning him about Coleman’s shooting: “Yeah, they took me back to jail,” he answered.
One juror was cackling as she left the courtroom after Redding testified.
But the courtroom was quiet Monday afternoon as police Cpl. Crystal Hatcher explained photographs she took at the homicide scene.
Coleman was shot through the east window of Apartment 5, 730 Lawyers Lane, she said as jurors saw a photo of a window and red curtain punctured by bullet holes.
On the inside was the apartment’s southeast bedroom, Coleman’s room. Photos showed blood on the floor and splattered on a wall. Struck six times, Coleman staggered to a northeast bedroom where his niece slept and collapsed, his shirt soaked in blood.
Outside his bedroom window, police found eight shell casings from a .40-caliber handgun and two casings from a .380-caliber, Hatcher testified.
Inside the bedroom, under Coleman’s mattress, police found a .32-caliber revolver fully loaded, she said.
The prosecution rested its case after Hatcher’s testimony. Each of the three defense attorneys then asked Rumer to order verdicts of acquittal on certain charges, arguing the evidence was insufficient to pursue those counts.
Rumer rejected each motion, ruling the jury would decide the merits of the case.
The trial’s to resume at 9 a.m. today, when the defense attorneys present their evidence and their clients may take the witness stand, a decision Rumer said they may reconsider.
Besides murder, they are charged with bank robbery and operating a criminal enterprise.