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Charges dismissed against man indicted twice in 2012 Mullica killing

Charges have been dismissed against a man twice indicted for murder in the 2012 killing of a Mullica Township man.
Michael Castro spent 16 months in jail after he was arrested in 2013, accused of killing John Kingsbury, 77, during an alleged robbery attempt at the man’s home. Castro was charged with murder, two counts of burglary, passing bad checks and weapons offenses.
A defense motion to dismiss was set to be heard next week, but ahead of that, the prosecution moved to dismiss it instead.
“While probable cause exists to implicate the defendant in the above crimes, there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” reads the motion to dismiss signed by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Erik Bergman, who was prosecuting the case, and First Assistant Prosecutor Cary Shill, acting as the prosecutor in charge.
Because the case was before Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner when he was a judge, he has not been involved in it since changing positions.
But this is not the end of the case, Tyner told BreakingAC.
“While the legal threshold for indictment is probable cause, the new administration adheres to a philosophy of maintaining the highest standards of investigation in every case,” he said in an emailed response. “Far from closing the case on this murder, (Shill) embraces this new philosophy and believes that the continued investigation into the murder of John Kingsbury will ultimately lead to justice and a conviction.”
For now, defense attorney Douglas Cody said his client is trying, once again, to rebuild his life.
“An innocent man was deprived of his freedom based upon an incompetently conducted investigation that narrowly focused on the wrong person,” Cody said. “To the great shame of our criminal justice system, false and misleading testimony was twice given in support of his arrest and indictment.”
Kingsbury was found bleeding from two gunshot wounds inside his home Feb. 5, 2012.
Castro was arrested 14 months later, and indicted.
But that indictment was thrown out in June 2014, after  Cody successfully argued that the Major Crimes sergeant who testified before the grand jury gave “false and misleading testimony.”
The sergeant was disciplined as a result of the case, and Castro was released.
He then filed a lawsuit against the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and several of the detectives involved.
Just less than two years after he was freed, Castro was arrested again after a new grand jury indicted him. On Monday, that indictment was dimissed.
“The second indictment of Mr. Castro defied all reasonable explanation, and all innocent explanation,” Cody said Wednesday. “As citizens of a Constitutional republic operating under the rule of law, we deserve better from our police and prosecutors. Thankfully, a just result was reached in the case. But more is required. Now there must be accountability.”
That is being sought in the pending litigation.
“Michael Castro will now, once again, begin the difficult journey of reclaiming his life, health and reputation,” Cody said.
While the Prosecutor’s Office wouldn’t comment on what stymied the case, Cody’s previous argument may give insight into where the reasonable doubt may lie.
The first grand jurors were told Castro was the only one with access to the home of Camden County Sheriff’s Officer Lauren Kohl, whose personal weapon was used to kill Kingsbury.
She had last seen the gun Dec. 24, 2011, before going on vacation.
But Kohl had told investigators other people had access to her home, including a woman who was supposed to come to drop off the dog. Kohl also mentioned that, while she was looking for her missing gun, she noticed a sliding glass door that was open.

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