Angel Castro

“She said she didn’t think it was that bad at the time,” El Campo police Lt. Russell Urban told the newspaper during initial coverage.

 

A Louisiana toddler battered to death, a Wharton man ambushed in El Campo and a wreck that threw a woman from a vehicle were the county’s only three confirmed homicide victims in 2021, although seven people face homicide charges in Wharton County.

It’s unlikely, that any of the six men or the one woman will face trial in 2022, however, Wharton County just has too many accused killers from previous years on the docket.

Toddler Dies, Babysitter Arrested

The first alleged murder of 2021 took place on Jan. 19, although officials at first thought it may have been an accidental fall.

Nineteen-month-old Roselynn Coates had been at the home of her 26-year-old babysitter Angel Nicole Castro of 703 Way when paramedics were called at 11:06 a.m.

They found a child with “an obvious head injury” who was unconscious, but breathing. They soon discovered the injury had happened about 45 minutes before help was summoned.

“She said she didn’t think it was that bad at the time,” El Campo police Lt. Russell Urban told the newspaper during initial coverage.

The child later was pronounced her dead at El Campo’s hospital at 1:04 p.m. the same day of what an autopsy determined to be internal injuries.

A capital murder warrant was issued for her babysitter on Jan. 22. She posted a $500,000 bond and remains out on bond.

Castro had been caring for Roselynn, the daughter of a highway contract worker, since October. She initially told investigators that the child had been climbing on kitchen cabinets and had fallen, striking her head on a rocking horse and then on the floor.

Police had never been called to Castro’s northeast El Campo home. She has no prior criminal record, but it wasn’t the first time little Roselynn had suffered harm.

“There were incidents prior. Injuries that were never reported to the police or CPS,” Urban said. Police did not say whether they believed that harm came at the hands of Castro.

The punishment for capital murder, if ultimately convicted, is life in prison or the possibility of state seeking the death penalty. The charge also allows the convicted to be found guilty of a lesser offense.

Social Media Swap Turns Deadly

Driving over to 704.5 Alvin on Feb. 23, 2021, 20-year-old Shane Singleton of Wharton thought he had made a deal, but, shortly after he pulled into the driveway, the arranged swap turned to an ambush.

“(Singleton’s) vehicle was running with the headlights on. It had crashed into the bottom of the garage apartment,” Urban told the Leader-News shortly after the crime took place.

Police received reports of multiple shots fired and spotted several people fleeing the scene as they rolled up.

EMS tried to stabilize Singleton and summoned a helicopter ambulance to take him to Houston, but he reportedly died en route.

A court decided 17-year-old Brandon Rene James of Wharton will face trial as an adult in the case. Also facing murder charges in the case are 19-year-old Devin Lamont Lott of Wharton; along with El Campo residents Devin Ray Garcia, 17, 18-year-old Dayton Ray Quinonez and 19-year-old Drew Avrie Quinonez,

All remain in the Wharton County jail in lieu of a $1 million bond. Each case will be prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office based on a conflict with past representation or knowledge in the DA’s office.

Runaway Felon Crash Turns Deadly

A wanted man cruising through Fulshear on April 28, 2021, started the chain of events which ended with a murder arrest and a dead woman.

The 54-year-old Raymond Charles Lights’ 2003 Hyundai Sonata was flagged by a license plate reader and a Fulshear officer tried to stop him, but Lights chose to flee.

Lights headed for Wharton Count passing through the East Bernard area, five minutes from a choice turning deadly. The Sonata crashed at 11:25 a.m. on CR 270 five miles west of East Bernard.

“He was traveling at a high rate of speed, he lost control. It was a dirt road,” Department of Public Safety Sgt. Stephen Woodard told the Leader-News. “His vehicle left the roadway to the right, rolled and struck an embankment.”

Lights was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital. His girlfriend and passenger Juila Moreno went to the morgue.

The decomposed body of a teenage girl was found on June 18 (please see related story), but it’s unknown whether she died in 2021 or 2020.

2020 cases:

Bullets & Smoke Murder: Shaquille Norvell Montgomery, 27, of 306 S. Colorado in Edna stands accused killing 23-year-old Keyshun Demetric Riggins of 201 Olive on Jan. 31, 2020.

For an undisclosed reason, Montgomery went to Riggins’ home. There an altercation apparently happened and whether by intention or mishap the house burst into flames.

Riggins’ body was found the day after police officers helped rescue of woman suffering from multiple gunshot wounds from the flames.

Family dispute: El Campo man Aaron Thomas Martinez, 25, of 1100 Alice allegedly killed a family member on April 27, 2020, during some sort of family argument.

2019 cases:

Baby killing: Elijah Alexander Hogston, then 27, of 5554 Timber Creek Place in Houston allegedly killed his own infant child on May 19, 2019 while he was at their CR 103 home alone with her.

Originally, the incident had been reported as an accident with Hogston saying little Amara began to spit up while he was feeding her.

The child was sent via helicopter ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital where a social worker and nurse opted to contact WCSO with misgivings about the child’s condition.

Amara was taken off life support May 20, 2019 in Houston.

Hogston wasn’t arrested until March 18, 2020, he posted a $300,000 bond and was released from custody pending trial on April 16, 2020.

2018 and older cases:

The Rosenberg man who stands accused of killing the Angleton family of Ray Shawn Hudson Sr., 28, Maya Victoria Rivera, 24, and their five-year-old son Ray Shawn Hudson Jr. is set to go to trial in May.

Robert Satterfield allegedly tried to burn their bodies too, the remains were found on June 16, 2018 in a field off Floyd Road outside of Burr, a small community in East Wharton County.

Trailer House Killing – 72-year-old Arturo Lara Tamez of El Campo faces the possibility of 99 years in prison in the Nov. 30, 2016 stabbing death of a local woman.

Tamez is believed to have killed Christal White Brown, 52, found in one of the trailers parked in the Quick N Easy lot behind Valero, 1415 E. Jackson, shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016.

Brown knew Tamez, according to police. She was possibly a girlfriend or perhaps simply a friend.

Tamez has been out on bond since Oct. 9, 2018.

Green Shed Slaying – This case may never go to trial, but is still on the books. The alleged killer, Demond Blunston of El Campo, is already on Texas’ death row for the killing of his two children in a Laredo hotel room in 2012.

The case against Blunston actually starts here in El Campo, however, in a green shed on Dunlap street where what may have been an argument with the children’s mother, Brandy Cerny turned deadly on June 19, 2012.

Bluntson fled El Campo that day, but was found by Laredo police after he used one of Cerny’s credit cards to secure a hotel room in that city.

A standoff in that hotel turned deadly with Bluntson killing the two children and injuring a police officer before he could be taken into custody.

Bluntson was found guilty of two counts of capital murder in 2016 and transferred to death row. The local case remains pending because of the cost to try a case against a man already condemned to die.

There’s no statute of limitation on murder, however, so it could be tried at some point in the future should that be deemed necessary.

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