Suspect in two murders, including a 4-year-old, accused in more violent robberies

Thursday, December 8, 2016
Battles charges
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Suspect in 4-year-old's murder now tied to other attacks during manhunt.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- One of the men accused in two murders last month is now also alleged to have committed at least two other violent crimes while on the run.

As Philip Battles, 18, appeared in court, prosecutors detailed two armed robberies in which Battles allegedly took part.

"God was watching out for me," said one of the victims who spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News about the attack in which she was targeted.

RELATED: Battles speaks from behind bars about shooting death of 4-year-old

She asked us not to use her name as she fears retribution.

She was attacked, she says, in the parking lot of her apartment complex off Wayforest Drive in north Harris County.

"Three young guys jumped out with a gun and ran up to me," she said.

They took her purse and car. She had no way of knowing at the time that one of those allegedly involved was wanted for two murders.

RELATED: Three charged with capital murder in death of 4-year-old girl

Investigators say Battles was part of a crew committing a rash of robberies.

First, the murder of 62-year-old Ignacio Ortega, killed Nov. 7. Then, 4-year-old Ava Castillo was shot in the head Nov. 14th as her family was robbed outside their home.

A couple was then attacked Nov. 19th. In that case, investigators say, the woman was shot. Then the victim that spoke to Eyewitness News was targeted on the Nov. 23.

"Oh my God, I'm blessed to be alive, that I did not get killed and hurt," she said.

She is coming to terms with her survival, thinking much about why she would survive and others would not. She's relieved Battles and crew are off the streets for now, but after living in the same apartment complex for 16 years, she concludes it's time to move.

It's not clear how Battles and the other suspect allegedly chose their victims. He confessed in court to his involvement in the murders, but claimed in each that he was never the gunman. He claimed he was the getaway car driver. He was arrested last week in connection with the murder of Ortega.