An Orange County prosecutor Friday announced in court that his office was working on a possible plea bargain in a cold case out of Huntington Beach in which a retired teacher is accused of gunning down two young men in Huntington Beach in 1994.
Lamberto Ricci Castillo, 66, also no longer faces the threat of the death penalty as prosecutors have decided not to pursue that punishment, Senior Deputy District Attorney Keith Burke told Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger.
Castillo was ordered to return to court Sept. 7, and if a settlement was not reached by then the defendant will go to trial and face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Castillo, of Alamosa, Colorado, is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstance allegations of multiple murders. He was charged in April of last year with killing Kenny Paul Sommer and Chen “Cosmo” Maui Blanchard, both 23, on March 31, 1994, in downtown Huntington Beach.
Castillo allegedly confronted the victims about 9:30 p.m. as they were urinating near Main Street and Orange Avenue, touching of an argument among the three. Castillo left and returned about 10:15 p.m. with a gun, then allegedly shot both multiple times before fleeing, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Colorado police called Huntington Beach investigators in 2016, identifying Castillo and his wife as possibly being involved in the argument with the two victims prior to the shooting, according to Huntington Beach police Officer Jennifer Marlatt.
Investigators did not elaborate on what tipped Colorado police to suspect Castillo, who was not with his wife at the time of the shooting, police said.
The Castillos are both retired teachers. The defendant was teaching at an Orange County high school at the time of the shootings, police said.