KENTON, Ohio — Jurors heard from Charles Castle in his own words for the first time on Thursday. They heard portions of two interviews conducted with Castle by Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Jason Snyder.
During that interview, Castle consented to having his minivan, van and phone searched. He also provided DNA samples. When questioned about the little girl, he said she did not know where she was.
During the second interview, when shown what Snyder described as surveillance video showing Castle and the little girl getting into his van, Castle appeared to have trouble seeing the video, indicating it was obstructed by trees. During both of these interviews, the little girl was still missing.
Earlier in the day, jurors heard from both a doctor who treated the little girl and the social worker who conducted the forensic interview.
Dr. Kirstin Crichton, a child abuse pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, testified about seeing the effects of what appeared to be strangulation from red ligature marks on the neck to petechiae, which appear as tiny red freckles on the face and neck. Those dots can be an indication of choking or strangulation, where oxygen is cut off and tiny capillaries or blood vessels burst under the skin.
Dr. Crichton also shared that the MRI showed she had suffered brain damage. She said the little girl has faced challenges with vision, walking and cognitive abilities and spent an extended period of time in the hospital.
Jurors also saw a bit of that on display in the videotaped forensic interview of the little girl. She appeared to wobble a bit as she walked to sit on a couch. Throughout the first part of the interview, she appeared playful, turning the lights off and on before finally sitting on the floor to answer some questions.
When asked about what happened to her, she said she did not want to talk about it. But then she shared that she had been kidnapped and left somewhere. She did not detail any sexual abuse or being taken to the basement where she was found.
Alicia Daniels, the licensed social worker who conducted that interview, testified that the little girl has shown signs of incremental disclosure when it comes to her trauma, meaning that she has revealed what happened to her, bit by bit, as a way of testing the reaction of others to that information.
The middle portion of the day focused on DNA evidence, with testimony from three BCI forensic scientists.
The evidence shows a mixture of two DNA contributors on the sample taken from the inner crotch of Charles Castle’s jeans. One was from Castle; the other was from the little girl.
DNA from both of them also was found on the back of the little girl’s neck.
When it came to the swab of the genitals of the little girl, the evidence was a bit more complicated.
An STR test is a standard DNA test and can often determine a finding within an estimated frequency of that data pattern to be one in one trillion. That essentially means it is a very, very close match. A Y-STR test focuses on the Y chromosome, which is only found in men.
The STR test found the little girl’s DNA in her genital region, along with additional DNA that was insufficient to test. That is when scientists testified that a Y-STR test was performed. That test was able to determine that DNA from a male Castle relative was found. But it is important to point out that that test could not narrow it down to Charles Castle himself, only a male member of his family.
Court resumes at 8:30 a.m. Friday.