Three teenagers have been charged with capital murder after a vicious robbery in Houston, Texas ended with the shooting of a mother and her two young daughters, one of whom died from her wounds. Ava Castillo, who was 4 years old, and her sister Betzida, 10, were helping their mother Diana Gomez unload groceries from her car on November 14 when they were approached by Philip Battles, 18, Ferrell Dardar and Marco Miller, both 17. The trio ambushed the young mother and her girls, trying to snatch Gomez’s purse and opening fire on them. Gomez was shot seven times, Betzida once. Both survived and are currently recuperating at home. Little Ava was shot in the face and died at the scene.
Anonymous tips and good detective work led police to Battles’ home address. As it turned out, he was already in custody for the murder of a 62-year-old man he had tried to rob. He admitted his involvement in the Castillo murder and rolled over on his friends, telling police Dardar and Miller were with him at the time of the ill-fated robbery. Despite their youth, the three have racked up of criminal charges in their brief lives, including aggravated robbery and auto-theft.
All three have been charged with capital murder, which in Texas carries with it a life sentence. As an 18-year-old, Battles could also be sentenced to death, especially considering his other murder case was also classified as a capital offense. Dardar and Miller could be eligible for parole since they are both minors, even if sentenced to life in prison. However, Texas juries are not known for their leniency, especially when it comes to child killers. [Source: KHOU Houston; Photo: KHOU]