January 24, 2014

Court roundup

Man pleading guilty to sex crimes gets 300 days in jail

Rachel Brown

— Editor’s note: Updates on high-interest criminal cases previously reported in The Daily Citizen appear periodically on Saturdays.

CHATSWORTH — A Crandall man the Murray County Sheriff’s Office arrested in April 2012 for alleged sex crimes against a 14-year-old girl pleaded guilty to sexual battery recently in Superior Court.

Gordon Lewis Callaway, who was 29 at the time of the arrest, turned himself into authorities after learning he was wanted for child molestation, officials said then. Judge David Blevins sentenced Callaway to serve five years — 300 days in jail and the rest on probation — as well as to pay a $2,000 fine, perform 300 hours of community service and abide by the state’s sex offender conditions, which include being placed on a sex offender registry.

He had been scheduled for a Feb. 3 trial.

Also in Murray County Superior Court:

• Sunil Shamji Jungawalla, who was 46 and living in Snellville when he was arrested in 2011 for allegedly traveling to Murray County where he expected to have sexual relations with a child, is tentatively scheduled for trial before Blevins on Feb. 3. He was placed on hold shortly after his initial arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officials said.

• Paul Mergel is serving a sentence handed down in 2005 after he pleaded guilty then to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and seven counts of first degree forgery in connection with cashing his mother’s Social Security checks after her disappearance.

The search for his mother, Murray County resident Mary Mergel, is ongoing, and she has been declared legally dead although investigators haven’t found her body. Paul Mergel’s name re-entered the public spotlight after he was arrested on drug charges in New Jersey, then extradited to Georgia for violating his probation.

According to court records, he hadn’t made contact with his probation officer since June 2007 and currently has about a year-and-a-half left on his sentence. He remains in the Murray County jail following a probation revocation hearing earlier this month.

• David Emmanuel Ostalaza, who faces several charges in connection with pointing a firearm at a Chatsworth police officer, is scheduled to be back in court May 29 for a calendar call to state whether he is ready for a June 9 trial.

Ostalaza is charged with aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, discharging a firearm while under the influence, discharging a firearm near a public highway and possession of drug-related objects.

Officials said at the time of the November 2013 incident that the officer was responding to a complaint about someone shooting a firearm outside in a residential area, and Ostalaza allegedly met him at the door with a gun.