Convicted Murderer Sentenced to 25 Years to Life for Severing Girlfriend’s Head with Sword

SAN MATEO, Calif. – A man convicted of brutally murdering his girlfriend in San Carlos was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Tuesday. Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta was found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of 27-year-old Karina Castro outside her San Carlos apartment in September 2022. Additionally, Landaeta was sentenced to an extra year for a weapon-related charge.

During the sentencing, the victim’s father, Martin Castro Jr., expressed his dissatisfaction with the punishment, stating that he felt it was not harsh enough for the crime committed. Judge Lisa Novak also addressed Landaeta directly during the proceeding, calling the crime “incredible act of violence” and emphasizing that it was not related to untreated mental illness.

The defense claimed that the killing was an act of self-defense by a man with mental health issues, stating that Landaeta was not taking his medication for chronic paranoid schizophrenia. However, prosecutors argued that the killing was motivated by vengeance, citing exchanges on social media as evidence of a volatile relationship between Landaeta and the victim.

Witnesses reported seeing Landaeta and Castro having an intense argument outside of her apartment before Landaeta retrieved a sword from his car and used it to kill Castro. The defense claimed that Castro had knives and attempted to stab Landaeta, alleging that she had also threatened Landaeta’s family with violence.

The case highlighted the complexities of intimate partner violence and mental health issues. It also raised questions about the adequacy of the criminal justice system in addressing such crimes, with the victim’s family expressing frustration with what they perceived as a lenient sentence for a brutal and senseless act of violence.

The sentencing serves as a reminder of the devastating impact of domestic violence and the importance of addressing mental health issues within the criminal justice system. As the community continues to grapple with the aftermath of this tragic event, it is essential to have conversations about how to prevent similar incidents in the future.