Niles murder trial under way
Published 10:20 am Thursday, July 16, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
As criminal trial proceedings began this week, Berrien County Prosecutor Kelly Travis is no doubt just one of many looking for answers in the alleged homicide of a Dowagiac man that took place in Niles back in February.
It was in the early morning hours of Feb. 2 when Michael Gerard Evans of Dowagiac and Jonathon Castillo met in the middle of Maple Street outside Castillo’s residence, entering into an altercation that would eventually end in Evans’ death.
A jury heard testimony Monday and Tuesday from relatives to Michael Evans in the case against Castillo, who has been in custody on a $2 million bond.
Castillo and his sister, Brenda Castillo Macedo were arrested following the incident, after which the siblings and Macedo’s son fled the scene, where Evans lay suffering from two stab wounds that allegedly came at Castillo’s hand.
Macedo has been serving a sentence of 180 days for her involvement in the incident.
The prosecution’s case seems to be built around the estranged relationship between Castillo and his ex-girlfriend Danielle Watson.
Watson and Castillo have three children together and she had begun a relationship with Evans, who had come along with her that morning to pick up her children.
According to reports, the prosecution stated it believed that Watson could have been the object of Castillo’s anger toward Evans.
During preliminary examinations back on February, Detective Richard Krueger of the Niles City Police Department outlined the events of the morning that authorities found through their investigation.
Krueger said Evans and Watson attempted to pick up Watson’s three children in order to take them to school.
“Evidence exists that the confrontation started in the street,” Krueger said.
Accounts vary, but some witnesses allegedly told police that Castillo along with his nephew instigated the fight with Evans.
Though the detective said that a “majority of witnesses” denied that Evans ever entered Castillo’s residence, the defendant claimed that he did.
Another point of contention in the case, “half of the witnesses,” Krueger said, claimed that Castillo was the one to bring out a 10 inch long butcher knife. In the escalation of the fight, Evans was stabbed twice, wounds that would claim his life.
It was the first homicide in Niles in seven years.
At the time of the incident, another of Castillo’s sisters, Judith, had claimed that Watson and her brother were under court orders to not have any contact with each other when she arrived at his home that morning. It was the family’s belief that neither Watson or Evans should have been at Castillo’s home that morning.
Back in February, Krueger said police were confident in the findings of their investigation, “that we have the right person in jail and that we’ll be able to prove that he brought the knife and he had intent to use it.”