A 76-year-old convicted sex offender has moved back into the Tombstone area after his release from state prison where he served 2.5 years for his failure to register with the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) as a sex offender.
Michael Merritt Castle was sentenced in February 2019 after he pleaded guilty failing to register with the sheriff’s office when he moved to Tombstone in 2013. He completed his sentence in September and has returned to Tombstone as a Level 3 offender, meaning he has been designated as a high risk of re-offending.
Court records show Castle, also known as Merritt Michael Trotter, is required to comply with sex offender registry laws due to a 2001 conviction in Oregon for sexual abuse of a minor. After his Oregon conviction, Castle was placed on probation and moved to New Mexico.
He registered with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office but failed to do so in Cochise County when he moved to Tombstone around June 2002. For the next several years he used various aliases and frequently moved to avoid registering.
Then in 2011, the Cochise County Attorney’s Office charged Castle with violating the sex offender registration law back in 2002. He spent 387 days in jail pending resolution of the case, which garnered him a 2.5-year prison sentence.
Castle was released from prison in July 2013 and returned to Tombstone a few months later. But court records show he again failed to register despite repeated advisories from local law enforcement of the need to do so.
The sex offender registry unit of the sheriff’s office declared Castle an absconder in summer 2014 at which time a warrant was issued for his arrest. But he again used aliases and claimed to have moved out of state to remain under the radar.
Castle was tracked to New Mexico in 2016 but wasn’t taken into custody until June 2018. After spending some time in Oregon to address a separate legal matter he was transported back to Cochise County for prosecution on the absconder warrant.
CCSO’s public notification of Castle’s latest return to Tombstone notes he was convicted of attempted sexual abuse, attempted sodomy, and attempted sexual penetration with a child.
Anyone with questions or concerns about Castle’s release to the community can call CCSO’s sex offender unit at 800-362-0812, extension 9504.