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Man Charged in Connection with Santa Monica Teen’s Murder


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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

May 22, 2017 -- A 42-year-old man has been charged with the February murder of a teenager who graduated from Santa Monica High School last year.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office charged Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa with murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) announced his arrest on Friday.

Juan Sebastian Castillo, 18, was found unconscious near UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica with a gunshot wound to the head around 5 a.m. on February 26, according to the SMPD (“Police Investigate Shooting Death of Santa Monica Teenager," February 27, 2017).

Responding paramedics pronounced him dead.

At the time, the SMPD was investigating if Castillo’s death was connected to a reported shooting that same day at 12:45 a.m. on the 2100 block of Pico Boulevard, which is about a mile from where his body was found.

Police have since determined “through extensive and thorough investigative efforts” that Castillo was the victim of that shooting.

Media reports say Espinosa is being held on $3 million bail and is scheduled for an arraignment at the Airport Courthouse on June 5.Castillo’s death was the first, and so far only, reported homicide this year in Santa Monica.

There have been two reported homicides in Santa Monica in each of the past two years ("Theft Most Reported Santa Monica Crime in 2016," January 18, 2017).


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