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Jurors see surveillance video from night Hardin County girl was kidnapped

The video was captured by cameras on a home just up the street from where the little girl lived.

KENTON, Ohio — The question for jurors in the Charles Castle kidnapping trial may come down to how clearly they feel they can see surveillance video and how much they trust cell phone data.

That video and data were two key pieces of evidence presented in the case on Friday. Castle is charged with the kidnapping, rape and attempted murder of a girl who was 7 years old at the time.

Prosecutors spent much of the day trying to develop a timeline of where Castle was during the time the girl was missing. Part of that effort was showing surveillance video captured by cameras on a home just up the street from where the little girl lived.

A gold-colored minivan can be seen making several stops at the little girl’s home throughout the day on Nov. 10, 2021, the night investigators believe the girl was taken.

Det. Terry Sneary, of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, testified that this minivan appeared to be the one belonging to Castle, but he admitted he could not be 100 percent positive.

He also talked about “clarifying” the nighttime video in several ways to try to make the images clearer to see.

Around 10:45 p.m., he testified that two figures -- one taller, one shorter -- can be seen getting into the driver’s side door of the van. The van then pulls away. But, when questioned, he admits the video is not clear to truly identify anyone.

Jurors also heard from Lt. Tom Watson with the Logan County Sheriff’s Office. He broke down the cell phone data he collected from Charles Castle’s phone.

He talked about the two ways a cell phone location can be determined, including from what’s known as GPS assist data and NELOS, or network event location operating system.

He showed several slides to indicate where he believed Castle’s phone was during the time the little girl was missing.

While he said some location pins were more accurate than others, he said he was confident that the phone moved south from the town of Kenton and then back again. That’s a critical point because the girl was taken from her home in Kenton and later found in an abandoned home on County Road 180, which is south of town.

Near the end of the day, the defense attorney asked Kenton Police Det. Daniel Kemmere about a person he questioned in the case. That person has similar features to Castle, including longer hair and a beard, and also owns a minivan. 10TV is not naming him because he is not facing any charges.

The prosecutor was quick to tamp down what he says was an “implication” that that man might somehow be involved and perhaps the true suspect.

On re-direct, he asked the detective if he had heard the little girl mention any other name other than Chuck Castle’s. The detective said no.

The prosecution did not officially rest its case, but the prosecutor said he had no plans to present further evidence. When asked, the defense attorney would not reveal if she plans to present a case. That will be revealed when court is back in session on Monday.

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