A Los Angeles man 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 more than two years ago.
Mitchell Ray Castillo, 38, could face 75 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 date for sentencing has not yet 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 countered, “Mr. Castillo is still obstructing his own trial.”
Prosecutors said the crime took place that December evening 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, authorities said.
Mota parked his car in the structure every day when he went to work as a maintenance contractor for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, according to ABC7.
His son was 13 at the time.
“No one should have their father taken from them at this young … age,” Alex Mota told ABC7. “During these holidays, it’s just hard.”
HACLA officials said in a statement around the time of his death that Mota was “kind, hardworking and well-liked by employees,” and brought in grief counselors for his co-workers.
Castillo and the stolen vehicle were spotted by Los Angeles police officers within hours of the killing.
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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