Prosecutors say cellphone data will play important role during trial of Careaga Family murders

Opening statements began Monday in the trial of three men charged with killing a family execution-style in Kitsap County.

Four members of the Careaga Family were murdered in Jan. 2017.

Charged for the murders are suspects Danie Kelly Jr., and brothers Robert "Bobby" Watson and Johnny Watson. They have a total of 10 charges for their involvement in the murders. Each has pled not guilty to all accusations against them.

Members of the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office spent all of Monday laying out their case during opening statements. 

"You’re going to hear evidence in this trial about the connection of brotherhood between Danie and Bobby that led to a plan and then that plan being executed to execute this family," said prosecutor Kelly Montgomery.

On the day of the murders, 16-year-old Hunter Schaap made a horrifying discovery at his family’s home in Seabeck. He dialed 911 and told a dispatcher, "Help. My whole family’s shot. Me too."

That call lasted less than a minute.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Careaga family murder: Timeline of the investigation and arrests made

When first responders got to the home, it was on fire. They found Hunter, 16-year-old Jonathan Higgins, and 37-year-old Christale Careaga, all part of a blended family, dead inside. 43-year-old Johnny Careaga was found dead days later, inside his burnt-out truck near a tree farm.

"One of the last moments of Johnny’s life was on video at Camp Union grocery store buying cigarettes," said Montgomery while showing the jury surveillance pictures of Johnny Careaga.

Prosecutors said detectives were able to track down those final images of Careaga through data collected from phone towers. The prosecutor explained their team built their case on that data, technology and informants. Montgomery told the jury the suspects’ own cellphones would provide the central proof that they are guilty of murder.

"That cellphone, that track phone went with Bobby out to Seabeck in order to lure Johnny from his house, up to a little store called Camp Union, so that he could take control of him and start the process that would end in Johnny’s and his family’s murders," said Montgomery.

Investigating the murders spanned the course of five years. Information the detectives learned during that time was the former close friendship between Johnny Careaga and Danie Kelly Jr. while dealing drugs together.

"Sometime after years of selling marijuana, Johnny and Danie had a falling out because Johnny believed that Danie stole about $15,000 from him," said Montgomery. "Some people thought they hated each other."

The three suspects were arrested in June 2022. They’ve been held in Kitsap County Jail without bail ever since. Each of them is represented by their own lawyer. Opening statements from the defense are expected to occur Tuesday.