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Castro prosecutor: 'This was a murder'

• Closing arguments begin in the trial of Esperanza Castro.

Posted: April 15, 2008 2:34 a.m.
Updated: June 16, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Esperanza Castro, left, and her attorney, Peter Korn, listen Monday as the prosecution presents its closing arguments in San Fernando Superior Court. Castro is accused of murdering her husband, Ramon Castro, and leaving his body in the back of his pickup truck parked under a freeway overpass in Canyon Country in 2006.

 
SAN FERNANDO - Prosecutors began their closing arguments Monday in the murder trial of a Canyon Country woman accused of killing her husband, focusing on "contradictory statements" she had made to investigators.

Esperanza Castro, 45, is accused of killing her husband, Ramon, in the bedroom of their Evron Street home on March 22, 2006.

Deputy District Attorney Paula Gonzales began her final argument by showing jury members photographs of the bloody partially-clad body of landscaper Ramon Castro, found with his hands bound in the back of his pickup truck, abandoned under a Highway 14 overpass on Sierra Highway.

In her bid to ascertain that Ramon Castro was the victim of a murder, Gonzales showed the jury autopsy photos depicting multiple head injuries the man had suffered.

"If we look at the manner and method of how Castro came to his end, we see that the manner and method indicates to us that this was a murder," she said, pulling a metal pipe the size of a tire iron out of a brown envelope.

"He was beaten about the head and shot," she added. "When he was hit, was it with the intent to kill? ... When you take a pipe to our head, you're going to the human jugular. Without the brain, do we function? No. This is the quickest and most direct way to get to what? To get to death."

Gonzales then reminded the jury that Castro was shot after he had been savagely beaten.

She spent most of her afternoon, however, picking holes in the statements made by Esperanza Castro on the night she reported a burglary.

"Esperanza Castro is responsible for this murder and not some stranger in the night," Gonzales said.

Esperanza Castro told investigators she delayed calling 911 on account of her poor English but yet used the English word 'Salvage' in later discussions.

Castro also told investigators she usually sleeps fully-clothed which on the night of the murder meant sleeping in "socks, underwear, bra, shirt, sweatshirt and jeans."

She told investigators that she went to sleep "after her soaps" finished between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. but later told investigators she was not at home at 10 p.m.

"Her flip-flopping is amazing," Gonzales said, adding that Esperanza Castro first mentioned her husband two hours and seven minutes into her interview with investigators.

The defendant, her dark shoulder-length hair tied back with a hair clip, sat motionless beside defense attorney Peter Korn throughout the court proceedings Monday, listening to translators through earphones.

Despite the fact that Castro phoned 911 to report a break-in, investigators found no signs of forced entry to the home, Gonzales said.

"He drove around in his truck all the time, with his phone number and address printed on the side of it," Gonzales said about Ramon Castro. "If someone wanted, they could have followed him at any time. He could have been assassinated in a hundred different places as he moved from landscaping job to landscaping job.

"Why would a killer wait until he was in his home in Santa Clarita?"

Gonzales also reminded the jury of evidence presented during the trial that nothing was disturbed inside the Castro home and that nothing was taken.

The jury was shown several projected typed pages of the transcript of statements made by Esperanza Castro, each page marked with yellow highlighter.

Referring to the highlighted sections, Gonzales tried to show the jury an ever-changing account of the events of March 22, 2006, as provided by the defendant.

"On page 262 is a very telling portion of the interview," she said, before reading from the transcript. "And, here, there has been no talk about how this crime had been committed. She says: 'You believe a blow from a woman - '. A blow?

A blow? A little bitty word buried in this page."

Prosecutors are expected to finish their closing arguments today.

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