Trial Begins for Samurai Sword Beheading Murder Case in San Mateo County Courthouse

Testimony from key witnesses and investigators is underway in the trial of Jose “Rafa” Solano Landaeta, who is charged with the murder of Karina Castro in San Carlos, California. Castro was beheaded with a samurai sword outside her apartment building on September 8, 2022.

Landaeta, 34, refused to attend the trial’s opening statements on Tuesday but appeared in court on Wednesday as testimony continued. San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputy Damian Machuca testified that he witnessed Landaeta and his mother crossing under yellow crime scene tape at the murder scene. Machuca stated that Landaeta confessed to the murder, saying, “She was trying to kill me. I’m sorry.” The deputy also noticed blood splatter on Landaeta’s clothing.

Three witnesses testified on Tuesday, describing how they saw Landaeta behead Castro with a sword and continue to attack her even after she was dead. Landaeta’s defense attorney, Robert Cummings, acknowledged that his client killed Castro but argued that Landaeta is a paranoid schizophrenic who stopped taking his medication. Cummings claimed that Landaeta believed he acted in self-defense due to death threats from Castro the night before the killing.

Prosecutor Josh Stauffer argued that Castro was running for her life when Landaeta chased her down the street and repeatedly slashed her with the sword. San Mateo County Sheriff’s Sgt. Albert Grant testified that he was the first law enforcement officer at the scene and described the gruesome sight of Castro’s decapitated body.

Witness Renata Tabellion testified that she saw Landaeta approach Castro with the sword after an argument between the former couple. Tabellion ran to a nearby house out of fear, while her friend screamed at Landaeta to stop. Another witness, Daniel McCormick, stated that he witnessed Landaeta strike Castro with the sword twice while she was already on the ground.

The trial continues, with the prosecution arguing that Landaeta planned to murder Castro out of vengeance, not self-defense. Castro is survived by her two young daughters, one of whom is Landaeta’s child.


Author: CrimeDoor

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