TAMPA — A year-and-a-half after Christopher Daniels was found bloodied in a ditch in Thonotosassa, his 4-year-old brother still asks about his big brother.
"Almost on a daily basis," Marvin Daniels, Christopher's father, said, "we have to explain why Christopher is in heaven."
A jury Friday found two teenage brothers guilty of manslaughter after they killed Daniels by dragging him from a pickup truck.
Bailey Castle, 18, and Roger Castle III, 19, were charged with first-degree murder and robbery in January, but were convicted of lesser charges of manslaughter, theft and possession. The jury deliberated for seven and a half hours.
"We're satisfied with the verdict," Marvin Daniels said. "All we've ever wanted is for someone to be held accountable."
It was a drug deal gone bad, prosecutors said, when 18-year-old Daniels reached into a pickup truck with a bag of marijuana. According to witnesses, Roger Castle was driving and hit the gas. Defense attorneys dispute that telling of events, saying Castle was not driving.
Daniels clung to the side of the truck before dropping into a ditch, witnesses said. A woman who found him prayed over his body while waiting for authorities to arrive.
Daniels died at Tampa General Hospital nine days later.
In the courtroom Friday, Roger Castle rubbed tears from his eyes as he waited for the jury to return a verdict. The Daniels family held crosses with hearts and roses handwoven out of palm fronds. They played cards and watched videos on their cellphones while waiting for the jury.
Marvin Daniels said the toughest moments were just after they heard there was a verdict but waited for the jury to reenter the courtroom.
"In my heart I never truly had a doubt," he said. "We never wanted to see them spend the rest of their lives in prison; we wanted to know what happened to our son."
Roger Castle does not have any prior convictions, but records show Bailey Castle was arrested in May at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino for possession of a controlled substance. Roger was released on bond, but Bailey, who was already in custody after the drug charge, will remain in jail.
Because the brothers were juveniles at the time of the crime, the court ordered a predisposition report that will recommend a treatment plan before sentencing. For the crime, the brothers are facing a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Sentencing for the Castle brothers is scheduled for July 19.
Times staff writer Peter Jamison contributed to this report. Charles Scudder can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3111.