After nine days of testimony recounting a long and tangled tale of drug dealing, bank robbery and homicide, a Muscogee County jury Monday found Daphene and Jamal Castille and Dantrell Marshall guilty of racketeering, but not guilty of murder and other charges.
The verdict means each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. Had they been found guilty of murder, they would have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. Judge William Rumer has scheduled sentencing for 8:30 a.m. Monday.
Besides racketeering, Daphene Castille was charged with "malice" or intentional murder in the fatal shooting of police informant David Coleman, felony murder for causing Coleman's death while committing the felony offense of aggravated assault, and armed robbery in connection with a bank heist.
Besides violating Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) by participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise, Daphene Castille's son Jamal was charged with malice murder and felony murder. Besides his RICO count, Marshall was charged also with malice murder, felony murder and armed robbery.
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Though the jury found them not guilty of those other charges, it had to cite "predicate" or underlying acts to justify the RICO conviction. The acts listed in the defendants' indictment were solicitation of murder, murder, armed robbery, drug dealing and obstruction of justice. To be convicted of racketeering, each defendant must have committed at least two of the predicate acts.
The jury cited these underlying acts in Daphene Castille's RICO verdict: soliciting murder, murder, armed robbery, and drug dealing.
In Jamal Castille's verdict, jurors cited murder, armed robbery and dealing drugs.
In Marshall's verdict, jurors cited armed robbery and dealing drugs.
The trial testimony sometimes was difficult to keep in sequence and context as witnesses were vague about what happened when, but based on the evidence, court records and previous news reports, the saga follows this timeline:
On July 12, 2008, a Texas state trooper stopped Daphene Castille’s red Dodge Magnum east of Houston on Interstate 10, where driver Johnerson Adams tried to run away. He, Daphene Castille and Dantrell Marshall were detained as troopers searched the car, finding about a pound of cocaine with a street value of around $42,000.
While held in a state trooper’s car, Castille was recorded on on the cruiser's camera telling Marshall, 17, to “take the charge,” or tell authorities the cocaine was his and the car’s other two occupants knew nothing of it. At 17, Marshall remained a juvenile under federal law.
On the recording, Adams told Castille they were going to jail, and speaking of Marshall, she asked, “If he takes the charge, why would they keep us?”
Marshall claimed the cocaine was his, and all three were released on bond.
Prosecutors alleged that losing the cocaine and needing money for lawyers led the group to plan a bank robbery to refinance their operation. As Adams testified: “On top of the Texas loss, we needed money for lawyers.”
Mars, who robbed a drugstore at age 15 and robbed a Regions bank here in 1999, assembled supplies for the robbery, including makeup to disguise faces, plastic zip-ties to bind the wrists of witnesses and a bag to put the loot in, testimony showed.
Jamal Castille used his mother’s revolver, which was missing part of its grip. Marshall borrowed a second gun from Coleman, who lived in an apartment building Daphene Castille owned at 730 Lawyers Lane.
Marshall said he at first refused to join in the robbery, but was chided until he agreed to drive the getaway car. “They don’t know how to drive,” he said of Mars and Jamal Castille.
On Sept. 10, 2008, the three were together at 730 Lawyers Lane when a cousin drove up to get some crack from Jamal Castille, who saw the car she was in and asked whether he could rent it for crack.
The cousin asked the owner, Ron Samuel, who agreed.
With Marshall driving the blue 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier, they hit the bank right before it closed at 5 p.m. Mars went in first, using the gun borrowed from Coleman and wearing a distinctive multicolored cap with a puzzle-piece design, which he borrowed from Marshall.
Bank workers testified they were terrified by Mars’ threatening to shoot if he didn’t get access to the bank vault. As Mars cleaned out the vault, Jamal Castille bound the wrists of witnesses and kept watch. The robbery took three minutes, in which the robbers got $196,000 from the vault and thousands more from customers and tellers.
They drove straight from the bank to Daphene Castille’s home at 852 Englewood Drive, where they dumped the loot on the bed and divided it up. Marshall testified he got $30,000; Mars and Jamal Castille each got $70,000; and Daphene Castille got $20,000 when she arrived there 20 to 60 minutes later.
But Daphene Castille wanted the money out of her house, so she consolidated the loot and took it first to an aunt’s house on Sixth Street and later to a relative’s home in Cusseta, Ga., where Mars and Jamal Castille buried it in a cooler, Mars testified.
Witnesses said she also burned the robbers' clothes and other evidence in a barbecue grill at her 730 Lawyers Lane property.
A more pressing matter was disposing of the car, a description of which already was being broadcast on the news. Also Samuel wanted it back.
Chandra Castille testified her sister Daphene Castille brought a man named “Ron” to her Montrose Drive home after midnight on Sept. 11, 2008, and paid her to let the man report his car stolen from her home telephone.
Police Sgt. Harvey Hatcher testified that the next day, Coleman, a paid informant, contacted him about the robbery. He said Coleman described the revolver Daphene Castille owned and showed him where Samuel’s car was abandoned at Church Avenue and Spenola Drive, a block from 730 Lawyers Lane.
Police with a warrant describing Daphene Castille’s revolver searched her Englewood Drive home on Sept. 12, 2008, but found only some clothing that could have been worn during the robbery. Officers left a copy of the search warrant behind.
Witnesses said Daphene Castille studied an affidavit accompanying the warrant to determine who was feeding police information. She decided it was Coleman. One witness quoted her saying, “I got something for his a--.” Another quoted her saying, “I’ll toe-tag the m----r f----r,” a reference to how morgues once identified dead bodies.
About 2 a.m. Sept. 22, 2008, Coleman was standing at his bedroom window in Apt. 5, 730 Lawyers Lane, when he was hit six times in a fusillade of gunfire from outside. He staggered into his 22-year-old niece’s room and collapsed. He died in about an hour.
Outside the window, police found eight .40-caliber bullet casings and two .380-caliber casings. An autopsy recovered two .380-caliber bullets from Coleman’s body.
Testifying for the prosecution, Mars said that Jamal Castille had two guns of that caliber the night of the homicide, and that the two of them later drove across the 13th Street bridge to Phenix City and threw the guns in the Chattahoochee River. Mars said Marshall and Jamal Castille killed Coleman, but their attorneys said he was deflecting blame from himself.
Johnerson Adams testified Mars later took him by Coleman’s apartment window, showed him the bullet holes and said, “This is what a rat and a snitch gets.”
A former jail inmate who said he was incarcerated with Jamal Castille testified Castille admitted killing Coleman, whom the witness called “Li’l Dave.” Said the witness, Merrick Redding, “Jamal shot Li’l Dave through the window.”
In an FBI sting operation following up on the Texas cocaine seizure, Daphene and Jamal Castille, Terrell Mars and Johnerson Adams were arrested in Columbus on Oct. 16, 2008. Testimony showed they had in their possession $22,000 they'd planned to buy cocaine with, money that Mars said came from the bank robbery. They were charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Jamal Castille was being held in the Harris County jail on April 19, 2009, when he and two other inmates escaped. On April 27, 2009, he and his fellow escapees were recaptured in Liberty County, Ga.
As Columbus police continued to investigate Coleman’s homicide, federal prosecutors pursued the bank robbery and cocaine offenses.
In February 2010, Mars was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for the bank robbery. In June 2010, Jamal Castille was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for bank robbery and escape. His mother served federal prison time for conspiracy to distribute cocaine in connection with her FBI case.
Working with information provided by federal investigators, cold-case investigator Mike Dahnke, a Columbus police sergeant, arrested Daphene Castille and Marshall for Coleman’s homicide on Sept. 20, 2012.
On Dec. 27, 2012, a Muscogee grand jury indicted Daphene and Jamal Castille, Marshall and Mars for racketeering and murder. Daphene Castille and Marshall also were indicted for the bank robbery.