Accused murderer pleads not guilty at arraignment

The man accused of murdering two people in a Parker Street home on March 29, has pleaded not guilty to all four charges against him.

At his arraignment at the Wood County Court of Common Pleas this morning, Craig Daniels Jr. appeared before Judge Reeve Kelsey, the same judge who released him on his own recognizance. Five days before the murder, Daniels was indicted on charges of stalking murder victim Alicia Castillon, his ex-girlfriend. Kelsey has since been criticized for not requiring a cash bond that would have kept Daniels in jail.

Around 3 a.m. on March 29, officials believe Daniels entered Castillon’s Parker Street home and shot her and new boyfriend John C. Mitchell to death. Four days after the murders, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force found Daniels hiding under a pine tree in his mother’s front yard.

Today Daniels faced charges of two counts of aggravated murder and two counts of burglary – one, a first-degree felony and the other, a second-degree felony. Daniels may be sentenced to death or life in prison, according to these charges.

Assistant County Prosecutor Paul Dobson asked that Daniels be held without bond at the Wood County Justice Center given his history with Castillon and his immediate disappearance after the murders.

Gwen Howe-Gabers is also serving as assistant prosecutor because the state must gather evidence to prove all charges.

Before the arraignment, Daniels’ defense attorneys David Klucas of Toledo and Scott Hicks from the Wood County Public Defenders Office had filed a motion to preserve evidence, a common preventative measure by the defense and said they would make a discovery request later today to gain access to that evidence.

At his appearance, Daniels wore a white button-down shirt and khaki pants rather than the usual orange jumpsuit.

Klucas, who was appointed by the court to represent Daniels, had filed a motion that he be allowed to dress up for his court appearances.

“We thought there was already enough video of him in an orange jumpsuit,” Klucas said.

Daniels’ next court appearance, a pretrial hearing, was scheduled for May 21 at 2 p.m.

After the arraignment, Klucas said he hadn’t yet seen any evidence and as a result, believed there was no reason not to file a not guilty plea.

Castillon’s mother Kathy Newlove said after Daniels’ appearance that she was not upset by his plea because she believes it’s standard in these cases.

Instead, Newlove said she’s concerned with helping others in her daughter’s situation.

“Now I’m focusing on what we can do to never have this happen again,” she said.

For example, Newlove suggests that judges get more information about domestic violence offenders and that offenders be registered like sex offenders.

She has already started working with state representatives to make these changes.

Newlove spoke with Rep. Bob Latta as she and her husband left the court.

Latta said he would be working in Columbus on behalf of this cause.

In the Daniels’ case, Newlove said she is confident justice will be served.

“I think especially after the negativity with the prosecutor and judge,” she said. “There are too many things against [Daniels].”

On Wednesday, there will be a rally and candlelight vigil in honor of Castillon and Mitchell at the courthouse from 4-6 p.m.