Jury signs off on aggravating factors for San Carlos beheading killer

REDWOOD CITY — The jury that on Monday found a man guilty in the brutal daytime killing of his child’s mother last year added enhancements to their verdict Tuesday, factors that will be taken into account when the man is sentenced to prison.

All aggravating factors were found to be true by San Mateo County Superior Court jurors Tuesday; the panel had been asked to decide on the specific facts of the case as the last step of the trial in the grisly San Carlos beheading case. Now, only a sentencing hearing remains for Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, 34, found guilty of murder in the violent 2022 killing.

Solano, of Hayward, brutally killed the mother of his child, Karina Castro, in broad daylight on a suburban street on Sept. 8 of last year. After finding him guilty Monday afternoon at the San Mateo County Hall of Justice in Redwood City, jurors affirmed the first of five aggravating factors, agreeing that he used a sword in the slaying.

Jurors reconvened Tuesday to address the four remaining sentencing enhancements, which included causing great bodily injury, a felony with circumstances in aggravation, committing a serious felony and another in connection to a previous felony. They found all four of those aggravating factors to be true.

Solano’s direct culpability was not at issue in the trial. Eyewitnesses recounted watching the slaying unfold on the afternoon of Sept. 8, 2022, in the middle of Laurel Street, not far from where Castro lived. They testified that they were walking by when they saw Solano and Castro argue, then watched in horror as Solano retrieved a sword from his car and brutally attacked a fleeing Castro.

His defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully that Solano had acted out of fear and paranoia, a contention they acknowledged as “imperfect self-defense.”

After the verdict Monday, Castro’s father, Martin Castro Jr., said he was satisfied with the outcome, saying, “Something has actually gone right.”

“I’m going to wake up tomorrow, and she’s still not going to be here,” he said outside the courthouse. “But I know he’s not going to be on the street. It might help us move on; everything’s been on hold.”

The enhancements will come into play at Solano’s sentencing hearing, which was scheduled for Jan. 9. Solano likely faces 26 years to life in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Lisa Novak.

Solano remained in custody without bail on Tuesday.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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