A state judge has ruled that Frank Casteel, who is serving a life sentence for the 1988 killing of three men on Signal Mountain, will not receive another trial.
The ruling comes after a three-day hearing in December during which Mr. Casteel described how his second trial in the case was botched by his defense attorney John C. Cavett.
Judge Jerry Scott denied Mr. Casteel’s petition for post-conviction relief. Mr. Casteel still has the option of appealing the decision to Tennessee’s Court of Criminal Appeals.
Characterizing Mr. Casteel’s complaints as having “no merit whatsoever,” Judge Scott wrote in his opinion, “It is clear that Mr. Cavett worked very hard.”
Wednesday marks the 20-year anniversary of the killings in which three men were shot as they rode three-wheelers through the woods on Signal Mountain. It took authorities nine years to indict Mr. Casteel for their deaths, and a jury found him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder in 1997.
The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the convictions, however, which prompted a second trial. A jury in 2003 also found Mr. Casteel guilty, sentencing him to three life terms in prison with the possibility of parole.
For complete coverage, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.