A 66-year-old transient was sentenced to 61 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing another homeless man in the city of Orange in a dispute over $100.
Lee Roy Castellano was convicted April 28 of second-degree murder, with a sentencing enhancement for the use of a deadly weapon, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons.
Castellano, a third-striker who has been convicted multiple times of armed robbery, received a significantly higher punishment because of his criminal history, Simmons said.
Before Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett sentenced Castellano, the defendant tried to fire his attorney, Randolph Driggs. Prickett would not let him, prompting Castellano to try to leave the courtroom as deputies restrained him.
After the Friday hearing, Prickett said he refrained from telling the defendant why his request was denied because the judge viewed it as a “potentially volatile situation.”
Prickett said he waited until the defendant was led out of the courtroom because Castellano appeared “extremely agitated” in a prior closed-court hearing on the defendant’s request to fire his attorney.
“I did not want to make a factual finding in front of him because I thought it would exacerbate the situation,” Prickett said.
The judge made a point of emphasizing that Driggs did a good job defending his client.
Castellano stabbed 59-year-old Steven Jolly on Feb. 24, 2015, Simmons said.
Jolly was found dead in a van he used for shelter that was parked in the lot at Cadillac Plating Co. at 1147 W. Struck Ave. The owner, who let Jolly use the van to sleep in, went to see him as he did every morning and found the body, Simmons said.
Jolly offered to sell Castellano a car a few months prior to the stabbing and, as part of the deal, the defendant gave the victim $100 up front, Simmons said. When Castellano followed up with the victim, Jolly told him another man was “processing the paperwork,” Simmons said.
When Castellano asked the other man about the status of the car deal, he said he didn’t know anything about it, Simmons said.
Castellano tried to get his $100 back from Jolly for a few months, but Jolly would not return the money, Simmons said.
–City News Service