KENTON, Ohio — The basement was dark and littered with trash. And many who decided to see it for themselves had to be helped down the rickety staircase.
It was one of the stops on the jury view, which is essentially a field trip, for the men and women selected to sit on the jury in the trial of Charles Castle.
The 57-year-old is facing 17 charges, including kidnapping, rape and attempted aggravated murder. He’s accused of taking a 7-year-old girl from her home last November.
The kidnapping sparked a massive search. According to court documents, the parents of the little girl sent her to bed around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.
The next morning, just after 9 a.m., her mother called 911 to report she could not find her daughter. Authorities launched a search to find the girl that lasted into the next day.
But, by late Friday night, a tip given to a local school resource officer had led officials to an abandoned house on County Road 180, where they found the girl alive.
Castle was later indicted in connection with the crime. He has since pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He has been declared competent to stand trial.
And that trial started Monday morning with jury selection. By early afternoon, eight women and seven men had been selected to serve on the jury of 12, with three alternates available.
The first order of business was a jury view, which is essentially a field trip. The first stop was the little girl’s home, where court documents show she was taken in the middle of the night. Jurors also saw a nearby home, where security cameras captured video that will be mentioned during the trial.
Next, the jurors rode in white vans to the abandoned home, roughly eight miles away, where the little girl was found in a dark basement. The jurors were allowed to walk down to the basement, one by one, to see the scene for themselves.
The final stop was a visit to see the Castle’s RV, where he lived just a few blocks away from the victims, home, and his minivan.
Jurors were then released for the day to return Tuesday morning for opening arguments.