Daphene Castille has changed her mind about testifying in her racketeering and murder trial.
Castille, whom some witnesses described as the “mastermind” behind a Columbus bank robbery that prosecutors say led to the killing of a police informant, had on Monday told Muscogee Superior Court Judge William Rumer that she would testify in her own defense. But when Rumer asked again Tuesday, she said she would not take the stand.
Her son and codefendant, Jamal Castille, told Rumer he will not testify either.
They gave those answers after watching the third suspect on trial, Dantrell Marshall, spend hours on the witness stand Tuesday being questioned by his own attorney and then cross-examined by others.
During his 2½ hours of testimony, Marshall admitted he drove the getaway car during the Sept. 10, 2008, armed robbery of a CB&T bank branch then located at 5445 Forrest Road.
But he denied playing any role in the fatal shooting of police informant David Coleman the following Sept. 22 at 730 Lawyers Lane.
His attorney, Tim Flournoy, called two witnesses Tuesday to say Marshall spent that night at the home of a friend whose family lived off Forrest Road. His then-girlfriend testified that around 11 p.m. she walked with Marshall part of the way from her Woodmont Drive home, and he called her when he arrived at his friend’s place on nearby Snelling Drive.
His friend’s sister testified she opened the door for Marshall when he arrived, and she believed he spent that night on her mother’s couch, though she retired to her own bedroom after letting him in. She said he could have left the house without anyone noticing because he didn’t know the code to disarm her mother’s burglar alarm.
When Marshall took the stand, he amused some in the courtroom by starting his side of the story with the phrase “Once upon a time,” the typical introduction to a fairy tale.
Besides the bank robbery, Marshall also acknowledged his role in a July 2008 road trip to Houston with Daphene Castille and a driver named Johnerson Adams. Marshall said he went there to see his girlfriend, who was visiting an uncle. He said Castille went there to buy cocaine for $10,000.
He said Castille and Adams had planned for him to pack the cocaine and bring it back to Columbus on a bus, but instead they wound up driving. Adams was driving Castille’s Dodge Magnum on Interstate 10 east of Houston on July 12, 2008, when a Texas state trooper stopped them for following too closely.
Castille told him to hide the cocaine in his pants, but he did not, he said. The troopers became suspicious, particularly when Adams tried to run away, and detained them and searched the car.
Castille told him to “take the charge,” or tell troopers the cocaine was his, he bought it on the street in Houston, and Castille and Adams knew nothing about it, he said. He was 17 at the time.
The three later bonded out of jail and were never prosecuted, but the cocaine Castille lost had a street value of about $42,000, and that loss left her in need of cash to pay a lawyer and buy more cocaine, authorities said.
That’s what led to the bank robbery, police said.
Also involved in the robbery was Terrell Mars, Daphene Castille’s boyfriend at the time. Mars also is charged in the racketeering and murder case, but is not on trial this week because he agreed to testify for the prosecution.
Marshall said Mars bought gear such as clothing and plastic strips for the bank robbery, and at one point had those supplies out in the bedroom he and Castille shared in her 852 Englewood Drive home. The plastic strips were used to bind bank customers’ and employees’ wrists during the robbery.
Though Mars, who previously had robbed a drugstore and another bank, bragged about the upcoming robbery — telling Marshall, “Boy, this is what I do” — Marshall assumed Daphene Castille was in on the plan, too: “That’s her boyfriend so she knew what was going on,” he said.
He said he was hanging out with Mars and Jamal Castille at an apartment Daphene Castille owned on Lawyers Lane when they asked him to drive the car for the robbery. “They don’t know how to drive,” he said.
At first he declined, he said, telling them, “I don’t do that. I don’t rob people,” and they suggested he was scared. He finally agreed to help them because he’s “kind-hearted,” he said.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Al Whitaker seized on that, asking Marshall whether robbing a bank is not “kind-hearted” but “evil.” “It’s not evil. It’s bad,” Marshall replied.
While preparing for the robbery, Mars borrowed Marshall’s distinctive, multicolored cap adorned with puzzle pieces, Marshall said. The cap later appeared prominently on bank security camera footage. Marshall was sent to Coleman’s Lawyers Lane apartment to borrow a gun for Mars to use.
Jamal Castille used his mother’s gun, which was missing part of its grip, according to earlier testimony.
Also in readying for the robbery, Jamal Castille rented a car in exchange for crack. The bank robbery took three minutes. Marshall waited in the car, and afterward drove straight to Daphene Castille’s Englewood Drive home, where she arrived 20 to 60 minutes later, he said.
Unlike Mars, who testified earlier, Marshall gave a differing account of how the loot was divided, saying Mars and Jamal Castille each got $70,000, he got $30,000 and Daphene Castille got $20,000. Mars’ account shaved $10,000 off each of those amounts.
Marshall’s amounts add up to $190,000, closer to the $196,000 bank workers say was taken from the vault during the robbery.\
Under questioning from Daphene Castille’s attorney Cynthia Lain, Marshall acknowledged that when he spoke to Daphene Castille the next day, she was “upset” that Mars had involved Marshall and her son in the robbery, and that they had used a stranger’s car.
Marshall was the first suspect police questioned about the robbery, and he tried to disassociate himself from the Castilles and Mars after that, he said.
He insisted he knew nothing about Coleman’s homicide and had no idea Coleman was a police informant. “He was my best friend,” Marshall said of Coleman.
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday morning, and later Flournoy also rested his defense of Marshall.
When court resumes at 9:30 a.m. today, Lain is to begin her defense of Daphene Castille. Suellen Fleming, who represents Jamal Castille, is to follow her.