After 7½ hours of deliberation, jurors in the murder and racketeering trial of Daphene Castille and two codefendants reached no verdict Friday, so they were dismissed until 9 a.m. Monday.
The jury got the case against Castille, her son Jamal and Dantrell Marshall at 10:02 a.m. and worked through the day, with Judge William Rumer having lunch delivered.
When jurors had not reached a verdict by 5:30 p.m., Rumer summoned them to the courtroom and instructed them to return after the weekend.
Written questions the jury sent Rumer to be addressed in open court indicated jurors were unsure how to deliver a verdict in the multi-count indictment. which alleges the three were engaged in a criminal enterprise involving cocaine distribution, bank robbery and homicide.
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Terrell Mars, Daphene Castille’s ex-boyfriend, also faces charges, but he is not on trial because he agreed to testify for the prosecution.
The others are accused of violating Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly called RICO, by operating an ongoing criminal enterprise involving these underlying or “predicate” acts: solicitation of murder, murder, armed robbery, drug dealing and obstruction of justice.
Both individually and as parties to the crime, they also are charged with “malice” or deliberate murder in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old police informant David Coleman, and with felony murder for killing Coleman while committing the felony offense of aggravated assault.
Jurors may convict them of either murder charge, or of both, but in the latter instance those charges would “merge” or be consolidated into one for sentencing, because only one person was killed. Two murder cases can’t be made of one death.
The racketeering charge operates similarly, prosecutors said: Each defendant can be convicted of racketeering if he or she commits at least two of the “predicate” acts cited in the indictment.
But if one predicate act is murder, and jurors also convict the defendant of murder, then the murder count becomes “merged” or consolidated into the racketeering charge. The result is the defendant is sentenced for racketeering, with a maximum of 20 years in prison, and not murder, for which the sentence could be life.
How to decide such charges is what jurors asked about during deliberations Friday.
According to the defendants’ indictment, Daphene Castille and Dantrell Marshall also are charged with armed robbery in the Sept. 10, 2008, holdup of a CB&T bank then at 5445 Forrest Road. Jamal Castille and Terrell Mars already are serving time in federal prison for that crime, because bank robbery also is a federal offense.
Dantrell Marshall admitted driving the getaway car, but was never arrested by federal agents, likely because at age 17, he was a juvenile under federal law. The feds also never charged Daphene Castille in the robbery, but Columbus police now allege she ordered the heist.
Prosecutors claim she needed cash to pay lawyers and resume dealing cocaine after losing a pound of the drug July 12, 2008, when a Texas state trooper stopped her red Dodge Magnum east of Houston on Interstate 10, where driver Johnerson Adams tried to run away.
Adams, Daphene Castille and Dantrell Marshall were detained as troopers searched the car, finding the cocaine for which Castille paid about $10,000, but which had a street value of about $42,000, witnesses said.
After the bank robbery, as her attorney Cynthia Lain admitted in closing arguments, Daphene Castille paid the owner of the getaway car to report it stolen from her sister’s Montrose Drive home, burned other evidence and hid the loot, estimated at around $200,000.
Police searched her 852 Englewood Drive home on Sept. 12, 2008, and left behind a warrant and an affidavit on which the search was based. That affidavit bore a description of a revolver she owned, which her son had used in the bank robbery. The gun handle was missing part of its grip.
Police got the gun’s description from Coleman, Daphene Castille’s cousin. He was identified in the affidavit only as a confidential informant, but the gun’s description led Daphene Castille to decide he was the source.
Witnesses said Castille wanted him dead, and asked her son to kill him.
About 2 a.m. Sept. 22, 2008, the police informant was struck six times by a fusillade of gunfire that came through his bedroom window. Outside police later found bullet casings of two different calibers, one a .40-caliber and the other a .380.
Terrell Mars testified Jamal Castille had those guns, and the two of them went to Phenix City to throw the weapons in the Chattahoochee River after Coleman’s homicide. Mars said Castille and Marshall killed Coleman, but defense attorneys said Mars was the second shooter, and fingered Marshall to deflect blame from himself.