Alleged child molester's trial sparks anger

January 27, 2010 4:07:12 PM PST
The investigator who helped track a suspected child sex predator all the way to Thailand took the stand today. It was the last day of testimony for the prosecution in the trial of Darren Castleberry. Now, it's the defense's turn. The defense began presenting its side of the story in mid-afternoon. While yesterday saw a lot of emotion from the stand, today the emotion started in the audience.

Accused child molester Darren Castleberry showed no emotion as the state wrapped up its case against him in court. But one man showing plenty of anger was Johnny Ricks, who's related to one of the alleged victims.

"It ruined her life. I mean, it did," he said. "She was a good kid doing good in school and then when he started, her grades went down, she let herself go, moved out, was scared of him."

Ricks says he believes Castleberry is guilty of sexually assaulting a number of young girls, including someone related to Castleberry. But Ricks wasn't the only angry courtroom observer.

David McKinley said, "I'm here every day just to look at this person and say I'm still here. You have treaded on my property, my life."

McKinley first met Castleberry years ago, when his own step-daughter was dating the defendant. Now she's charged with sexually assaulting a child with Castleberry.

So while the state investigator testified as to how he tracked down Castleberry in Thailand and eventually brought him back to Texas, several people in the audience say they're hoping he'll never go free again.

"He has wrecked 11 people's lives. Eleven people he has ruined," McKinley said. "If he only gets 10 years per person, that's 100 years and that's bye-bye."

There are strong feelings from some people who say they've sat in the courtroom every day of the trial, and they will continue to attend all future court proceedings for Castleberry. The defense is expected to wrap up its case shortly. The case will go to the judge to determine guilt or innocence.