An ex-con convicted of first-degree murder and carjacking for running over a 54-year-old man with the victim’s pickup truck in the Westlake area of Los Angeles was sentenced Tuesday to 85 years to life in state prison.
“The conduct was a callous disregard for humanity,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mildred Escobedo said shortly before sentencing Mitchell Ray Castillo for the Dec. 11, 2017, killing of Ricardo Mota.
The judge called the 38-year-old defendant’s conduct “vile” and said he has “shown absolutely no remorse.”
Castillo repeatedly interrupted the sentencing hearing, lobbing insults at Deputy District Attorney Paul Przelomiec and the defendant’s own attorney, James Cooper.
The judge apologized for the defendant’s remarks and noted that Castillo had been found competent to stand trial.
“Now he knows he’s on the brink of prison and he’s trying to get out,” Escobedo said of the defendant, who had a 2013 conviction for burglary and was on probation for a 2017 conviction for criminal threats when he killed Mota.
The victim’s stepdaughter, Crystal Aceves, told the judge that Mota had always treated his stepchildren as his own.
“He was always there for us,” she said, noting that she recently became engaged and won’t be able to have him walk her down the aisle at her wedding.
She also read a statement from Mota’s son, who was 13 when his father was killed.
“I feel like I have lost a big part of my childhood and my family,” the teen wrote, noting that his father promised that he would help him decorate a Christmas tree but never came back.
The 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 died at the scene.
Witnesses told detectives they saw Mota fighting with a man trying to get into his truck.
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.
HACLA officials described the victim as “kind, hardworking and well-liked by employees,” and brought in grief counselors to aid his co-workers.
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