The senseless shooting death of a Cobb County hotel worker over $304 went unsolved for 14 years.
In December 2000, Rodney Castlin was 36. His wife was eight months pregnant, and Castlin was working nights at a Wingate Inn near Barrett Parkway and I-75; he wanted his days open so he could pursue a business degree. But he would never meet his daughter. Instead, two men held up the Wingate on Dec. 7, stealing a few hundred dollars and shooting Castlin in the chest before fleeing the scene.
On Tuesday, more than 15 years after Castlin died, his family watched as the man responsible was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Life plus 35 years was the sentence they wanted, and they got it.
“We want to make sure justice is served at this time and that no other family — no other family — is able to have this type of experience that we have experienced,” Kelley Castlin, Rodney’s widow, told the court.
James Lorenzo Randolph got away with murder for 15 years. Last month, however, a Cobb County jury convicted him of malice murder, felony murder, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, two counts of armed robbery, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.
Before he was sentenced Tuesday, Randolph, 34, was given the chance to address the Castlin family.
“I feel their pain,” he said. “I apologize that they lost a loved one. I know how they feel because I lost two loved ones. I’m sorry, man.”
Kelley and Rodney Castlin had a 4-year-old son, Kyle. But in 1999, the Castlins’ 8-month-old daughter died unexpectedly. Then came word in 2000 that Kelley was pregnant again.
“We were very excited and optimistic,” Castlin said Tuesday.
But her husband was killed before his daughter was born.
Almost 2,000 people attended the funeral for Castlin, who was voted “Most Humorous” by his senior class at the former Walker High School in Decatur. Castlin also had two children from a previous relationship.
For nearly 14 years, the Castlin family hoped for answers to who had killed him. But the one fingerprint found at the crime scene returned no matches for investigators checking a Georgia database.
In 2012, the fingerprint was run through a national database, and this time, Randolph was identified as a match. In February 2014, a cold case unit was established within the Cobb DA’s office, and in October that year, U.S. marshals located and arrested Randolph in South Carolina, where he was already a felon and had served nine years on a burglary conviction. He was returned days later to Cobb County, where he has been held without bond.
In court Tuesday, Randolph’s attorneys asked Judge Robert Flournoy for a sentence that would make Randolph eligible for parole. Flournoy denied that request, sentencing Randolph to serve the remainder of his life in prison.
“Today was definitely the culmination of a long road,” DA Vic Reynolds told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Hopefully this can be the final closure to a very tragic situation. Justice was finally served today.”
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