A Los Angeles resident was convicted Monday of first-degree murder and carjacking for running over a 54-year-old man after stealing the victim’s pickup truck in the Westlake area.
Mitchell Ray Castillo, 38, could face 60 years to life in prison for the Dec. 11, 2017, murder of Ricardo Mota, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. A sentencing date has not been set.
Castillo listened to the verdict in a room outside of the courtroom due to what Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mildred Escobedo characterized as continued outbursts. After the jury filed out of the room, Castillo was brought back before the judge to discuss a trial to confirm his prior convictions before sentencing.
Castillo, dressed in orange jail clothes, spoke out of turn again and again, proclaiming himself not guilty and saying of his defense attorney, James Cooper, “He don’t have no power here.”
The judge said Castillo “is still obstructing his own trial.”
Prosecutors said the evening crime took place on the rooftop level of a parking structure near the 600 block of South Carondelet Street, just west of MacArthur Park. Mota was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses told detectives Mota was fighting with a man while trying to get into his car. Video surveillance showed Castillo driving from the scene in Mota’s gray Nissan pickup, which the victim parked in the structure every day when he went to work as a maintenance contractor for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles.
Castillo and the stolen vehicle were spotted by Los Angeles police officers within hours of the killing.
Alex Mota, who was 13 when he lost his dad, said then, “No one should have their father taken from them at this young … age. During these holidays, it’s just hard.”
HACLA officials issued a statement describing the victim as “kind, hardworking and well-liked by employees,” and brought in grief counselors for his co-workers.
Records shared with the court indicated that the defendant was sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 for a burglary conviction and three years probation on a criminal threats conviction in 2017.
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