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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Local man avoids death penalty

A Bowling Green man pleaded guilty yesterday to killing two people and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Craig Daniels Jr., who had originally pleaded not guilty to the murders of his ex-girlfriend Alicia Castillon, 30, and her boyfriend John C. Mitchell, 22, in March, changed his plea in a deal that allowed him to avoid the death penalty.

Daniels and the victims’ families agreed to the plea bargain in order to spare Castillon’s four children who were in their mother’s home on Parker Street at the time of the killings from having to testify at a trial, said David Klucas, a defense attorney for Daniels. Two of Castillon’s children were fathered by Daniels.

Judge Reeve Kelsey of the Wood County Court of Common Pleas showed no leniency in following the sentencing recommendations of prosecuting attorneys.

Daniels received two consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole for the murders of Castillon and Mitchell. He also received a combined 18 years in prison for two burglary charges related to the murders.

At the hearing, assistant prosecuting attorney Paul Dobson outlined the evidence that would have been presented against Daniels had the case gone to trial.

Daniels broke into Castillon’s home through the kitchen window at around 3 a.m. on March 29, Dobson said. Fingerprints matching Daniels were found on several windows where he tried to break into the house.

After entering the home, Daniels went to Castillon’s bedroom where she and Mitchell had been sleeping and shot each of them multiple times. As Daniels left the house, he passed by Castillon’s oldest daughter, Katie, who had been startled by the killings. She called 911 to report the shootings.

‘The horrendous nature of the crime is only exacerbated because the children were made to participate by being in the house at the time,’ Dobson said.

Following the murders, Daniels broke into an empty house a block away from Castillon’s where he watched police arrive at the scene, Dobson said. An ashtray from Daniels’ truck was found inside the house.

After that, he left in his truck and traveled to his mother’s home near Canton, Ohio. The U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force apprehended Daniels six days after the murders, who had been hiding in a hole under a large pine tree on his mother’s property.

The prosecution also pointed out Daniel’s long history of violence against Castillon.

In 1999, Daniels was sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into her home, beating her and holding a knife to her throat.

Daniels was due to return to prison shortly before the murders for charges stemming from a December 2006 incident where he tied Castillon up and threatened her with a knife.

After Dobson finished outlining the case that would have been presented against Daniels, members of the victims’ families were brought before the court to make statements.

Mitchell’s mother, Angel Turpin, fought back sobs as she told the court how close her son and Castillon had been.

‘He had so much love to give and he wanted to be loved,’ Turpin said. ‘He found that love with Alicia and her children.’

Castillon’s mother, Kathy Newlove, then addressed the court, but focused most of her comments specifically at Daniels.

‘The evil in your eyes, Craig, was always so apparent,’ Newlove said. ‘Why didn’t Alicia see it sooner?’

Newlove agreed to the plea bargain because she said capitol punishment would be the easy way out for Daniels.

‘He needs to sit there in prison for the next 50 years and think about what he’s done,’ she said.

Since the murders, Newlove has become an advocate for victims of domestic violence. She created the organization Alicia’s Voice to provide the necessary services to Wood County women suffering from abuse.

Daniels declined to make any sort of statement in court, but his attorneys said there were several mitigating factors that warranted life in prison instead of the death penalty.

‘This is not an exercise in generosity by the state,’ Klucas said.

Daniels’ attorney said there are a number of ‘red flags’ in his criminal history that should have alerted authorities to the fact that Daniels had mental health issues.

But Turpin said any circumstances in Daniels’ past could not justify his crimes.

‘Everyone has choices,’ Turpin. ‘I don’t care what happened, there are no excuses for what he did.’

Editor in Chief Lisa Halverstadt contributed to this report.

Timeline of Daniels’ Troubles With The Law

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