Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Officials deny parole to man convicted of 1989 murder, shootings

LAKE COUNTY – A man convicted of the 1989 murder of a co-worker and the shootings of two others was denied parole at a Tuesday hearing.

The Board of Parole Hearings denied parole for convicted murderer Francisco Mendoza Castillo, 71, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff, who attended the lifer hearing at California State Prison-Corcoran's Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, where he argued against Castillo’s release.

Castillo was convicted of the second-degree murder of Jorge Suarez and the shooting of Francisco Parra and Ramiro Suarez, and sentenced to 26 years to life on March 2, 1990, according to Hinchcliff.

Superior Court Judge William J. Harpham sentenced Castillo, who originally was prosecuted by then-District Attorney Stephen O. Hedstrom. Castillo's minimum eligible parole date was July 8, 2005.

According to investigation reports by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, on Sept. 15, 1989, Francisco Castillo and his brother Jose Castillo attended a party at Mariani Vineyards where they worked with the three victims.

After the party, Jose Castillo got into an argument with one of the victims at 2955 Bell Hill Road in Kelseyville, where two of the victims lived.

Jose Castillo then left and returned a half hour later with Francisco Castillo and two firearms, a shotgun and a .38 caliber revolver.

According to witnesses Francisco Castillo, who had been drinking, shot Francisco Parra in the neck with the pistol, without provocation.

When Ramiro Suarez tried to calm Castillo down, Francisco Castillo shot him in the stomach, and after Suarez fell to the ground Francisco Castillo shot him in the leg.

Francisco Castillo then shot Jorge Suarez in the hand and chest. Jorge Suarez died at the scene.

When Francisco Castillo and his brother left the scene they drove their truck over the legs of Francisco Parra as he lay on the ground bleeding.

Francisco Parra and Ramiro Suarez survived the gunshot wounds. None of the three victims were armed at the time they were shot.

The Castillo brothers were caught when a game warden, Jim Branston, heard the gunshots and went to the scene to investigate. He pursued the fleeing pickup truck and called the sheriff’s office for assistance.

Francisco Castillo was in the United States illegally at the time of the shootings, and had been previously deported by the INS in 1981.

Francisco Castillo claimed at trial to not remember the shootings due to his drinking. At sentencing Judge Harpham stated that he did not believe Castillo, and noted that the shooting was quite accurate for someone who claimed to be so intoxicated they could not remember shooting three people.

Castillo continued to claim for 15 years in prison that he could not remember the shooting, then at an evaluation in 2005 he claimed he did remember the shooting and that the victims were beating him up and he shot all of them in self defense.

At the two-hour hearing Feb. 10, Hinchcliff asked the Board of Prison Hearings to deny Castillo's parole on the grounds that he still presented an unreasonable risk of danger to the public if released, and failed to exhibit any remorse or accept responsibility for his conduct.

The Board of Prison Hearings denied parole. Castillo’s next parole hearing will be in five years, Hinchcliff said.


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