A jury found a 34-year-old man guilty of beheading his girlfriend with a sword last year in what prosecutors called a “vengeance” motive.
The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office posted on social media that Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta was convicted of first-degree murder with the use of a sword in connection with Karina Castro’s death.
On Sept. 8, 2022, at 11:50 a.m., a witness flagged down San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office deputies in San Carlos and alerted them about an assault nearby. Deputies quickly arrived at the scene and found an adult female deceased. The sheriff’s office said at the time the suspect “was known to the victim.”
The Redwood City Pulse reports Castro had two children and Landaeta was the father of one of them. Officials said he used a samurai sword and was “slashing numerous times, causing the victim’s head to be almost severed.”
Landaeta reportedly initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but after doctors deemed him competent, he entered a plea of not guilty. His attorneys reportedly argued he killed Castro in self-defense because he thought Castro was trying to stab him. Landaeta’s defense attorney said Landaeta had a psychotic break at the time of the killing.
According to NBC Bay Area, Landaeta was not taking his schizophrenia medication when he killed Castro.
Prosecutors reportedly said in court that Landaeta was angry at Castro because she accused him of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl and that she would expose him by sharing that information online. Landaeta reportedly sent Castro ninja and blood emojis in his messages.
Castro’s father, Martin Castro, told Redwood City Pulse the verdict is “bittersweet.”
He said, “I am hoping to get some closure and normalcy back to life, or at least try. It feels like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.”
Landaeta faces up to life in prison.