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Santa Monica Man Found Guilty of Samohi Grad's Murder
By Jorge Casuso
August 22, 2018 -- A Santa Monica man faces 40 years to life in prison after being found guilty Tuesday of the murder of an 18-year-old Samohi graduate last year, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced.Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa, 43, of Santa Monica was found guilty of one count of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Juan Castillo, also of Santa Monica.
Prosecutors said there had been a brief run-in between Espinosa and the victim before the suspect retrieved a gun from his car and shot Castillo, who was sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car.
D.A.’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago told KTLA-TV that it did not appear Espinosa and Castillo knew each other.
"The shooting stemmed from a chance encounter and brief argument," according to the news report.
Shortly after the shooting, Castillo's father said his son was getting a ride home from a party when he was shot.
Nearly three months later, detectives arrested Espinosa, who was charged with one count of murder and two counts of being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm.
Investigators tracked the two cars using video taken from surveillance cameras and passing city buses, prosecutors said.
Castillo, who played football at Samohi, had graduated the previous summer. His number, 53, was retired.
Espinosa will return to court for sentencing on October 12.
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