A California man accused of beheading his ex-girlfriend with a samurai sword now claims that he killed the young mother in self-defense.
Last September, a 27-year-old woman was found beheaded on the street outside of her home in San Carlos – a city on the San Francisco peninsula. The slain woman was identified as Karina Castro, a mother of two young children – ages 7 and 1.
Police arrested Jose Rafael Solano, also known as Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, on the same day as the crime. The 33-year-old was charged with the murder of Castro – who was Solano’s ex-girlfriend and father of her youngest child.
In April, Castro obtained a restraining order against Solano, but she continued to interact with him, according to her family.
Snapchat messages between the pair reportedly ignited an argument and led to the young woman’s death. Castro reportedly threatened to expose Solano’s statutory rape conviction from 10 years ago and an alleged sexual relationship with another man.
According to Snapchat messages, Solano allegedly called her a “snitch lip,” and threatened her, “F*** around and find out.”
Hours later, Castro’s body was found beheaded outside of her home.
Solano claimed that he went to Castro’s house to de-escalate the situation.
Solano confessed that he wasn’t happy that Castro began dating another man. He also claims that Castro put a hit on him, according to ABC7 News I-Team reporter Dan Noyes who interviewed Solano from the San Mateo County Jail.
Noyes reported, “He insists that Karina Castro told him that she had hired people from East Palo Alto to carry out a hit on him, his mother, and his brother.”
Solano claimed that Castro was armed with a knife.
Noyes added, “He says she emerged from the driver’s side of that Volkswagen with the knife in hand and kind of marched towards him with this knife. And he claimed that he swung that sword in self-defense.”
Solano told Noyes that he used a “decorative” samurai sword, which he admitted the weapon had a “sharp edge.”
San Mateo County district attorney Steve Wagstaffe disputed Solano’s version of events, “We don’t think that that accords with the evidence that we’ve been able to collect in this case so far.”
Wagstaffe pointed out that there are no reports of Castro wielding a knife.
“We haven’t had any reports of her being armed with a knife or anybody even seeing a knife, much less using a knife,” he said.
In September, the case was suspended after Solano’s attorney questioned whether he was competent to stand trial because of mental competency. Castro’s father said that Solano was a “diagnosed schizophrenic on meds.”
However on Jan. 26, a judge ruled that Solano is competent to stand trial after a mental competency evaluation. A preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin on March 1.
Solano faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted on the murder charge.
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