Eugene Tyrone DeCastro was tried on indictments charging him
with the murders of Leon and Margaret Batten and the robbery with a
dangerous weapon of Leon Batten.
At approximately 5:20 p.m. on 29 February 1992, defendant, George
Goode, his brother Chris Goode, and Glenn Troublefield went for a ride
together in George Goode’s automobile. In Smithfield they saw a man
walking along the road, and George stopped the vehicle. Defendant,
George, and Chris got out of the vehicle and assaulted and robbed the
man. The three men then returned to the vehicle, and George drove away
at a high speed. At this point Troublefield requested that he be taken
home, but George refused.
George began playing “chicken” with other vehicles and eventually
lost control of his vehicle and ran into a ditch. After freeing the
vehicle, defendant, George, and Chris went to a store and bought a
bottle of wine. Troublefield again asked to be taken home. George’s
reckless driving continued until he lost control of the vehicle again,
stranding it in a ditch near the Dallas Mobile Home Park. After
unsuccessfully attempting to remove the vehicle from the ditch,
defendant, George, and Chris began walking toward the Dallas Mobile Home
Park, where George and his wife rented a mobile home. Troublefield left
About 6:35 p.m. a friend of George Goode’s wife saw George and several other men at the Goodes’ mobile home.
Earlier that day the owner of the Dallas Mobile Home Park, Leon
Batten, had informed one of the Goodes’ neighbors that the Goodes’
mobile home was vacant and that he was seeking new tenants. Apparently,
the Goodes had been delinquent in paying their rent. Between 6:30 and
7:30 p.m. this neighbor saw a strange man in the mobile home and went to
inform Leon. Leon drove his truck to the Goodes’ mobile home. A few
minutes later witnesses saw several black men standing over Leon in the
Goodes’ yard, beating him. Some witnesses recalled seeing four men
beating Leon, while others recalled seeing only three. A park resident
drove to the Batten residence and informed Leon’s wife, Margaret, of the
skirmish at the park, and Mrs. Batten drove to the Goodes’ mobile home.
Other witnesses drove to the nearby home of a sheriff’s deputy and
informed him of the trouble.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the Goodes’
mobile home and saw three black males standing in the yard. At trial the
deputy positively identified two of the men as defendant and George
Goode. The men fled, and the deputy was unable to catch them. The deputy
then discovered the bodies of Leon and Margaret Batten in the cargo bed
of Leon’s truck. Multiple stab wounds were apparent on both victims,
and neither victim had any vital signs.
Another deputy sheriff approaching the crime scene spotted George
Goode two-tenths of a mile from the mobile home park, walking quickly
away from the area. When taken into custody George was in possession of
Leon’s wallet. Within an hour after George was taken into custody, his
brother Chris Goode approached the crime scene asking for George. After
noticing bloodstains on Chris’ clothes, officers placed him in custody
and discovered Leon Batten’s partial dental plate in his pocket. Glenn
Troublefield was picked up by a sheriff’s deputy as he walked down the
Investigators continued their search for a fourth suspect. At
approximately 6:00 a.m. the next morning, investigators, with the aid of
a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) airplane equipped with an
infrared tracking device, spotted defendant walking along a dirt road in
the area. Officials found defendant lying at the base of a tree, and he
was then arrested.
Investigators later found three sets of human tracks leading from an
area near the Goodes’ mobile home, which they were able to follow
despite several gaps of up to two hundred yards. The tracks diverged,
and *658 one set of tracks ended approximately fifty yards from where
defendant was arrested.
A wine bottle was found in the passenger compartment of Leon’s truck.
Defendant’s fingerprints matched one of two fingerprint lifts taken
from the wine bottle. The inside portion of the truck tailgate was
smeared with a blood-like substance and had a handprint impressed in it.
The handprint matched defendant’s. In addition, blood taken from the
camouflage jacket defendant was wearing when he was arrested was
consistent with Leon’s blood.
An SBI agent and a sheriff’s detective testified regarding a
statement made by defendant while they were collecting defendant’s
clothing at the jail. The officers took defendant’s clothing and told
defendant to remove everything from his pockets and to place the items
on a nearby bench. Defendant removed $13.00 from his pockets. After
defendant had completely disrobed and the officers had collected all of
his clothing, the detective asked the agent “if it was okay for
[defendant] to keep the money.” The agent then turned back toward
defendant and saw some money in defendant’s top pocket. Before the agent
could say anything, defendant said, “I had some of my own money, too,
The medical examiner who conducted the autopsies on both victims
described the eight knife wounds to Margaret Batten’s head and neck and
the fifteen stab wounds to her chest and abdomen as well as the numerous
defensive wounds on the back of her hands. In addition to the external
cuts, the autopsy revealed a variety of internal injuries, including six
to seven broken ribs and cuts through the heart, lungs, esophagus,
stomach, large intestine, spleen, kidney, and liver. Margaret died from
the multiple stab wounds to her chest and abdomen. The medical examiner
testified that Margaret did not die a quick and painless death because
the wounds she suffered were not severe enough to be instantly fatal and
that Margaret probably remained conscious during the five to ten
minutes it took for her to die.
Regarding the autopsy of Leon Batten, the medical examiner testified
that she observed several stab and puncture wounds on his body. The
evidence also showed blunt trauma to the head and face, which could have
resulted from traumatic blows with a human fist or kicking-type blows
with a foot. Leon’s head and face were covered with abrasions,
contusions, lacerations, bruises, and scrapes. In addition, Leon
sustained several internal injuries, including broken ribs and puncture
wounds of the chest. Leon also suffered damage to his hyoid bone, a
horseshoe-shaped bone in the very uppermost part of the neck below the
chin, which could have been caused by a severe blow to the neck with a
human fist, a hard kick in the neck, or manual strangulation. Leon died
as a result of a stab wound to the heart.
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