In February through the first day of March, 2022 we conducted a first degree murder trial in Macoupin County before the Hon. Josh Meyers. The State's Attorney Jordan Garrison and his assistant states attorney handled the prosecution. The former states attorney was present in the pews and answering questions the prosecution team had. The facts of the case were that my client Allen Castleberry was watching his girlfriend's two year old daughter while she took another child to school. She was gone only a few minutes. When she returned the daughter was unconscious and lying in her bed. Mr. Castleberry said that the girl had essentially passed out and hit her head on the corner of the coffee table in the living room. There was a young daughter present who witnessed some of the events. An ambulance was called and the girl was taken to Cardinal Glennon for treatment.
Her temperature as measured by the ambulance and hospitals was well below normal. Her creatinine levels were very high. We retained an expert, a pediatric trauma doctor from Children's Hospital in St. Louis. He reviewed the medical records and some of the incident reports and came to the conclusion that the girl had been injured at least 24 hours prior to her collapse. My client was not in contact with the girl until that morning. She had been at her father's house the entire weekend. Her medical history involved at least 3 head injuries while in the custody of her father and mother. My client was dating her mother. We introduced the evidence of the prior incidents to the jury.
The mother tried to blame my client. The father blamed my client. We questioned the daughter who witnessed some of the events and her testimony was markedly different from that given to investigators (and recorded) immediately following the incident. She admitted her mother told her to make the false statements on the stand. I believe this was a major blow to the State's case. It proved that the mother was trying to point the blame at my client by persuading her young child to lie. The father was also caught in lies about prior injuries and stories about the child's injuries that the mother had previously told him.
The state called a federal prison jail house snitch who claimed my client admitted to murdering the girl. We found another prisoner who testified the jail house snitch created his story with the hopes of obtaining relief for his federal sentence. My experience is generally jail house snitches carry very little if any weight with juries. In this case I have to believe the State called that witness because they saw gaping holes in their case.
The jury was only out about 40 minutes before returning with a not guilty verdict. The victim's family began yelling and running towards my client's location. The sheriff's deputies arrested the worst offenders and prevented my client from being harmed. Due to the problems after the verdict I was unable to speak to any of the jurors as they were escorted out by sheriff's deputies to avoid confrontations with the victim's family. My client was freed after being in custody for 617 days. The reason he was in custody so long was mainly due to Covid.