An automatic handgun being aimed at a target. Photo from Pixabay.
Exampe of a handgun being aimed at a target. Not the weapon in the story. Photo from Pixabay.

An Aug. 6 preliminary hearing date was confirmed Tuesday for a 34-year-old man accused of gunning down his octogenarian grandparents inside a gated community in Palm Desert.

Frank Scott Castro III was arrested in September 2019 on suspicion of killing Frank Castro, 83, and Carolina Castro, 81, whose bodies were found in their home in the 43000 block of West Calle Las Brisas.

Castro is charged with two counts of murder, along with a special circumstance allegation of perpetrating multiple killings, which could have opened the defendant up to the death penalty had prosecutors opted to pursue it.

He also faces sentence-enhancing allegations of discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury.

Castro remains in custody without bail at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio.

During a status hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky conferred with the prosecution and defense about scheduling, and all sides agreed to proceed with the preliminary hearing on Aug. 6.

The hearing will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to warrant a trial for the defendant.

Deputies responded at about 2 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2019, to the West Calle Las Brisas address on reports of gunfire, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Sgt. Ken Thurm said deputies found the two victims shot to death inside the residence, and the defendant standing at the front of the property. He was taken into custody without a struggle.

A motive in the shooting has not been made public.

Castro has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, court records show.

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