A state appeals court panel has upheld a Whittier man’s conviction for killing his longtime girlfriend inside the apartment they shared.
In a ruling Thursday, the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Rafael Ayala Castillo’s contention that there was “no evidence of premeditation and deliberation” to support his first-degree murder conviction for Sandra Rodriguez Polanco’s Sept. 12, 2017, shooting death.
The panel noted in its four-page ruling that Castillo’s messages to a former girlfriend, including one in which he asked for a place to stay, combined with “evidence he approached and shot Polanco at close range without any apparent reaction on her part, constitute substantial evidence he acted willfully, deliberately and with premeditation.”
The woman — who was shot in the face from two feet away — was found dead on a couch, with a computer on her lap and her hand still on the mouse, according to the ruling.
When Castillo was arrested that afternoon in Reseda, he was in possession of a gun determined to have been the murder weapon, a phone with photos taken of the 54-year-old victim after she was killed and a one-way airplane ticket to Mexico, according to the appellate court panel’s ruling.
Castillo and Polanco had been in a relationship for nearly a decade and shared the apartment in the 11700 block of Floral Drive, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Castillo, now 59, was sentenced in January 2019 to 50 years to life in state prison.
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