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Published: Saturday, 4/7/2007

Why wasn't suspect in jail, many wondering

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Daniels Daniels
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BOWLING GREEN Mary Ann Robinson, a deputy in the Wood County Sheriff s Office, said she has known about Craig Daniels, Jr., for years.

As the sheriff s domestic violence specialist, Deputy Robinson said she had worked with Alicia Castillon as far back as 1998, when Daniels punched and kicked his then-girlfriend in the stomach until she passed out.

The deputy knew about the three-year jail sentence Daniels was given for domestic violence crimes against Castillon in 2000. And she knew about an incident in December in which Daniels tied Castillon up, beat her, put a knife to her throat, and threatened to kill her.

With all of this information swimming in her head, Deputy Robinson can t figure out how Daniels, 34, was in a position to kill Castillon and her boyfriend at Castillon s Bowling Green home on the morning of March 29 two murders for which he stands accused and will face the death penalty if convicted.

She said she doesn t understand how Daniels could ve been able to strike, especially when considering he was being held in jail in lieu of a $30,000 bond as a known domestic violence offender as late as February.

I don t know what happened in this case, Deputy Robinson said. I just don t know, and the whole thing makes me sick.

The deputy, of course, is not alone in her confusion.

Castillon    Mitchell Castillon Mitchell
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Dozens of readers have flooded The Blade with phone calls and e-mails, furious with the circumstances surrounding the killings of Castillon, 30, and John C. Mitchell, 22.

Castillon s mother, Kathy Newlove, has publicly criticized Wood County Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey for ignoring Daniels violent history with her daughter.

And an assistant Wood County prosecutor has taken some heat for failing to deliver to the judge a letter from Mrs. Newlove predicting that Daniels could kill her daughter and asking that he be kept in jail.

People are extremely, extremely upset, Deputy Robinson said.

Mrs. Newlove blames Judge Kelsey for lifting that $30,000 bond on Feb. 26 and allowing Daniels to be free from jail on his own recognizance until he stood trial for stalking and harassing Castillon back in January.

She said if the judge would ve properly considered Daniels past with Castillon, he wouldn t have allowed him to leave jail.

Judge Kelsey said he doesn t recall the specifics of the prosecution s arguments to have the $30,000 bond continued and maintains he was unaware of Mrs. Newlove s letter.

He also said he thought he made the correct decision and said Ohio law urges judges to issue own-recognizance bonds to those accused of fourth-degree felonies, a category that Daniels stalking charge falls under.

The purpose for bond is to ensure a defendant will come back for court and ensure there aren t any more offenses, Judge Kelsey said. A person deserves to be out on their own recognizance unless the state can show me the need for bond.

Judge Reeve Kelsey Judge Reeve Kelsey
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Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson is blamed by some for not giving Judge Kelsey Mrs. Newlove s letter and thus not presenting a strong case for the continuance of bond.

Mr. Dobson said he held on to the letter because it wouldn t have been appropriate to present it during a bond hearing. He also said he presented the strongest points of the letter during his arguments.

A copy of the court transcript from Feb. 26 shows that Mr. Dobson not only pushed for the bond to be continued but said it does not appear that [Daniels] is willing to follow police commands, and we believe he would be a threat to the victim.

Daniels attorney, Peter Halleck, told the judge Daniels was accused of stalking, in part, because he was at Castillon s home attempting to retrieve his vacuum cleaner. He told the court at the bond hearing that Daniels would leave Bowling Green and live with his mother in a Canton suburb more than two hours away if released from jail.

Judge Kelsey lifted the bond on the conditions that Daniels live with his mother and have no contact with Castillon.

Alicia Castillon s mother, Kathy Newlove, left, believes
Wood County Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey ignored Daniels  violent past. Alicia Castillon s mother, Kathy Newlove, left, believes Wood County Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey ignored Daniels violent past.
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A month later, Daniels was on the run for allegedly shooting and killing Castillon and Mitchell.

It s being perceived that because Paul did not provide the letter those murders occurred, and that s not the reason, said Mr. Dobson s boss, Wood County Prosecutor Ray Fischer. Paul argued the sum and substance of that letter. He gave a previous history of the relationship of the couple, and he gave a history of Daniels criminal past. His conduct was proper in the matter.

One might expect Michelle Clossick, executive director of the Cocoon Shelter, a domestic violence shelter in Bowling Green, to be among the many who are looking to blame someone for the deaths of Castillon and Mitchell.

And Ms. Clossick is blaming someone Daniels.

The focus needs to be on holding abusers and murderers accountable, Ms. Clossick said. There is a need right now for people to point blame, but it was Daniels who killed them, not the courts.

Ms. Clossick said every criminal homicide in Wood County since 2002 has been the result of domestic violence, and the courts, prosecutor s office, and law enforcement agencies should be working toward a solution to this ugly problem.

Blaming the judge or blaming the prosecutor isn t going to make a difference, she said. Cases like these aren t generally the failure of one person but of the entire community.

But if it is determined that one person in the legal system is culpable for what happened, he should be held accountable.

Contact Joe Vardon at:jvardon@theblade.com or 419-410-5055.



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