Martial artist seeks to KO murder charge

NJCCAST29C Michael Castro, a martial-arts expert with his fiance Megan Bailey, has been sitting in the Atlantic County jail for more than a year, accused of killing an elderly veteran on Super Bowl Sunday 2012.
NJCCAST29C Michael Castro, a martial-arts expert with his fiance Megan Bailey, has been sitting in the Atlantic County jail for more than a year, accused of killing an elderly veteran on Super Bowl Sunday 2012.
Posted: June 04, 2014

ON SUPER BOWL Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, an elderly veteran took two bullets to the head amid the blueberry farms and pine forests of Mullica Township, a sleepy South Jersey town that hadn't had a slaying in more than a decade.

About 14 months later, investigators arrested martial artist Michael "Danger" Castro, 33, and charged him with shooting John Kingsbury, 77, with a handgun that belonged to a Camden County Sheriff's officer. Castro has been sitting in the Atlantic County jail for more than a year.

But today, Castro's attorney will appear in Atlantic County Superior Court in support of a motion that asks that all the charges be dismissed. The 151-page motion filed by the lawyer, Douglas Cody, reads like a Hollywood crime drama, complete with bizarre twists, subplots and accusations.

The wrong person is sitting in jail for the crime, the motion contends, and Cody is asking that a judge urge the state's attorney general to investigate how he got there.

"There is compelling evidence of third-party guilt in the case," Cody, who declined to comment for this article, wrote in the motion, calling the investigation "woefully incomplete and incompetently conducted."

Blood on the floor

The problems began right away, just after 3 p.m. on the day of the shooting, the motion contends, when paramedics arrived at a residence on Woodland Avenue in the rural township, where Glenn Kingsbury allegedly found his father lying faceup on the floor with blood pooling from his head.

The motion, citing discovery evidence compiled by investigators, claims that paramedics rushed the man to a hospital just before 4 p.m. and that police said they left the home after finding no evidence of foul play. Instead of going to the hospital with his father, Glenn Kingsbury, the owner of a local cheerleading-competition organization called Cheer Tech, stayed behind with his girlfriend, the motion claims, to "clean up the blood."

At 4:24 p.m., Glenn Kingsbury called police and said he had found two bullet casings on the floor, the motion claims. His father was pronounced dead at 5 p.m.

When investigators returned to the home, they found no evidence of forced entry and nothing missing, including a safe in the master bedroom, the motion claims. A security surveillance system had been moved, however, and investigators learned that Glenn Kingsbury had disconnected the system's digital video recorder and "attempted to view it," the motion says.

When investigators tried to view the video at the home, Kingsbury told them he didn't know the password, the motion claims, and when they were able to view it later, the recorder's hard drive was empty. A forensics expert hired by Cody later examined the recorder and, the motion alleges, "Glenn Kingsbury formatted the DVR hard drive in an attempt to erase evidence of or relating to the crime."

A Super Bowl party

Kingsbury was interviewed by investigators on the day of his father's death, the motion claims, but the interview was not recorded. He told investigators that he had played paintball with his children that day and had invited Castro, a business partner of his at a nearby gym, over for a Super Bowl party he was planning to host that night.

In the 14 months between John Kingsbury's slaying and Castro's arrest in Florida - where he had moved and opened a new martial- arts school - the motion claims that the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office failed to follow up on evidence that would have excluded Castro as a suspect. It claims that one investigator, Sgt. Michael Mattioli, presented "false testimony and deceptive presentation" to a grand jury on July 3, 2013.

Mattioli misrepresented Castro's timeline on the day of the murder, the motion contends, by ignoring call records and interviews with Castro's fiancee and failing to obtain surveillance footage from various stores that would have verified his whereabouts.

A state report on Castro's whereabouts during the time of the death that's based on cellphone towers defies the laws of physics, the motion contends. The state has no physical evidence, the motion contends, or eyewitness testimony tying Castro to the murder.

The motion also mentions a series of text messages, unrelated to the slaying, between Mattioli and Glenn Kingsbury's girlfriend, Karen Drew, that "strongly suggest" that Mattioli helped Glenn Kingsbury get out of traffic tickets in Hammonton, Atlantic County, during the investigation.

"I just call a friend in Hammonton who will take care of the tic," Mattioli allegedly texted Drew on May 21, 2012. "I'll let Glenn know on that. Sorry our invest. is takeing so long."

The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office declined to comment on the ongoing criminal case yesterday, saying that "any statement of the Prosecutor's Office about the case at this stage occurs only in the courtroom." The hearing on the motion will be held this morning in Mays Landing.

A sheriff's gun

The motion alleges that Mattioli told the grand jury that Michael Castro was the only person who had access to the murder weapon - which, in a strange twist, belonged to Camden County Sheriff's Officer Lauren Kohl. According to the motion, Kohl was a minor partner in Castro's martial-arts business.

Kohl, according to the motion, told investigators that Castro was one of at least four people who had access to her house while she was on vacation. Investigators seized Kohl's phone and found that she sent several text messages expressing uncertainty over what had happened to the Ruger .380 handgun, the motion says.

On Feb. 20, 2012, Kohl sent a message that she was "going with stolen" because she wasn't sure what had happened to the gun. When investigators executed a search warrant on Kohl's home four days later, the motion contends, an empty box for the Ruger was found along with "two smoking pipes that appear to be drug paraphernalia with filters, rolling papers and matches."

In December, Glenn Kingsbury filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Castro, Kohl and Camden County. An attorney for Camden County declined to comment on the criminal motion yesterday.

The alleged murder weapon has not been recovered, but investigators confirmed that it belonged to Kohl through ballistics tests.

Castro, a self-described fourth-degree black belt in taekwondo who has competed in muay thai kickboxing, remains in the Atlantic County jail in lieu of $800,000 bail.

'Coming for me'

When Mattioli interviewed Castro on Feb. 9, 2012, the motion claims, he surreptitiously recorded the conversation and the investigator openly expressed suspicions about Glenn Kingsbury's finances. According to the motion, Mattioli spoke with Cheer Tech employees during that recorded conversation and claimed that Glenn Kingsbury had told him, " 'They were coming for me.' "

"Listen to those words, 'They were coming for me,' like somebody came to hurt him and he wasn't there, so they hurt his dad instead," Mattioli said on Feb. 9, 2012, according to the motion.

Justin White, an attorney representing Glenn Kingsbury in the wrongful-death case, said that his client had helped John Kingsbury set up a life in California, buying him a Porsche he often drove up and down the coast. John Kingsbury, a K-9 trainer in the Army during the Korean War and a former RCA employee, moved in with his son after his health began to deteriorate.

"He took him in and cared for him," White said of Glenn Kingsbury. "He was a loving son to his father."

On Twitter: @JasonNark

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