HARDIN COUNTY, Ohio (WCMH) — We’re getting more answers about the injuries a seven-year-old girl experienced during a kidnapping in November 2021 as well as the interviews law enforcement conducted.
Charles Castle is accused of kidnapping and raping the child.
Several witnesses were brought forward on day three of his trial, including a child abuse pediatrician, a social worker trained in conducting forensic interviews, several forensic scientists and a special agent with Ohio BCI.
Much of the morning’s questioning focused on the girl’s injuries following the kidnapping and the exam conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The child abuse pediatrician took note of several injuries including a purple ligature mark across the child’s neck, several spots of burst blood vessels on the child’s face, along with scratches and bruises on the child’s body.
Dr. Kristin Crichton testified that there was evidence of strangulation and brain damage. She was also asked if memory loss could occur.
“Depending on the degree of loss and damage to the brain there could certainly be compromise to cognitive functioning, to memory, to the formation of memories, the ability to recall memories, additionally the other thing that would contribute to memory difficulty is again the trauma associated with this happening,” she said.
The second person to take the stand was Alicia Daniels, a licensed independent social worker who conducted the forensic interview with the girl.
The purpose of a forensic interview is that a child does not have to relive their experiences of trauma during an investigation.
That video was played in court, that video did not air on NBC4 and was not recorded to protect the identity of the child.
Daniels says she was trained specifically to do these interviews with kids and had done more than 800 of them.
The forensic interview video at the beginning showed a playful child who was giggling, dancing, and excited to talk about her pets.
When the topic changed to the kidnapping, she shared some information but began to clam up.
Daniels says when it comes to trauma, there are cases where kids won’t share what happened, share bits and pieces, or will do it spontaneously, sometimes after long periods of time.
“She’s definitely incremental disclosure because she’s disclosing things that happened but she’s not disclosing the entirety of everything,” Daniels said on the stand.
Hardin County prosecutor Bradford Bailey then asked, “In fact we heard her say that she didn’t go anywhere when she was on the camper she stayed in the camper, correct?
Daniels responded saying correct. Bailey also asked if, “She also disclosed that nothing happened to her that hurt her body?”
Daniels replied correct again.
Back in November, the child was found in a filthy, cold basement of an abandoned home, not in the camper.
Again, there was also testimony the morning detailing her injuries, which included some brain damage caused by strangulation.
There were several hours of testimony focusing just on the collection and system of testing.
DNA from both the child and Castle were found on some swabs submitted to Ohio BCI.
Several pieces of evidence were brought to the courtroom. They included underwear from the child, a sexual assault kit, and a pair of jeans owned by Charles Castle.
Standard swabs from Castle were also sent to Ohio BCI.
Logan Schepeler, who specializes in DNA forensics, testified about certain swabs including a swab from the girls neck and another from her genitals.
He says testing from the neck swab showed presence of DNA from the child and Castle.
As for the genital swab, it showed the child as the major contributor and another minor contributor, but it was not of enough sufficient quality to compare to a standard DNA test, so another test was done.
“The YSTR DNA profile was consistent with Charles Castle,” Schepeler said when asked about it being compared with genital swab.
The 6th and final witness of the day was Special Agent Jason Snyder with Ohio BCI.
He testified that he had conducted three interviews with Charles Castle.
The court was able to view some of the interview video. At one point Castle said he did not know anything about the girls’ whereabouts and later in the video he appeared to get sick.
Castle’s attorney during redirect time asked about other interviews, particularly the father of the girl.
Elizabeth Smith asked, “Would you agree that there were inconsistencies between his statements and those interviews as to those whereabouts on November 10th on Wednesday the day [the child] actually went missing?”
Snyder responded, “Yes.”
The video also showed that Castle consented to a search of his vehicle, his phone, and DNA swabbing for testing.
The trial resumes Friday at 8:30 a.m.