Saturday, December 9, 2023

Bay Area man found guilty of beheading mom of two

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Karina Castro, 27, was killed in San Carlos on Sept. 8, 2022.


A man was found guilty Monday of beheading a Bay Area mother of two in a domestic violence murder that shocked the region. 

According to her father, Karina Castro, 27, was confronted outside her San Carlos residence by her ex-partner Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta on Sept. 8, 2022. Prosecutors say Landaeta, who lived in Hayward and drove to Castro’s home with a sword and the intention to murder her, then took the weapon to her neck repeatedly and killed her in the front yard. When San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies arrived at Laurel Street and Magnolia Avenue, Castro was already dead. 

Castro’s father Martin Castro told reporters outside of the courthouse this week that he believed Castro attempted to keep Landaeta outside because her two young children were inside their home; Landaeta is the father of one of Karina Castro’s children.

“Their mom was a hero, as far as I’m concerned,” Martin Castro told KRON4, adding, “there’s no telling what could have happened if she had been in the apartment and he went up there.”


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Prosecutors painted a picture of an abusive relationship and alleged Landaeta carefully planned the killing, while his attorneys claimed he acted in self defense. Landaeta was taken into custody the day of the killing; during the trial, which began on Nov. 7, a sheriff’s deputy who was at the scene said Landaeta approached him, still covered in blood, and said, “She was trying to kill me. I’m sorry.”

On Monday, a San Mateo County Superior Court jury found Landaeta guilty of first-degree murder. He now awaits sentencing and a further decision on if he is guilty of several aggravating factors, among them planning the murder and cruelty. 

“He was pretty sure he was going to walk out the front door,” his defense attorney Robert Cummings told reporters Monday. “I was not as optimistic myself.”


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