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Man to Stand Trial on Charges He Killed Wife

April 19, 2002|JENIFER RAGLAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Panorama City man will stand trial on charges that he strangled his wife, carved up her body and dumped the remains in the ocean off the Ventura County coast because she had threatened to leave him.

After a three-hour preliminary hearing Thursday, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles McGrath ruled that there was enough evidence for 37-year-old tile setter Alfonso Castillo to stand trial on the charges. Trial is scheduled to be set May 2.

Castillo was arrested Dec. 6 near Mugu Rock after a Ventura County sheriff's deputy spotted an illegally parked pickup truck and then saw a blood-spattered Castillo climbing up a rocky area from the surf.

A week later, prosecutors charged Castillo with killing his wife, 34-year-old Maria Guadalupe Pinaloza Ambario.

Castillo, who is in custody in lieu of $1-million bail, sat expressionless Thursday as sheriff's deputies and investigators detailed the woman's death and grisly attempts to dispose of the evidence. A Spanish interpreter sat at his side.

Sgt. James Panza said Castillo first told authorities that the blood on his clothes came from a cut on his arm and that he was climbing the rocks to dispose of a cat he had run over earlier in the evening.

But deputies shining search lights on the water saw human limbs bobbing in the ocean. Authorities later recovered several of Ambario's body parts, including her head. .

In late December, Castillo wrote to authorities, asking to speak with them about the case, said sheriff's Sgt. Lawrence Kelley.

According to Kelley's court testimony, Castillo told authorities that he and Ambario had a fight over the fact that she was going to leave him. Castillo pushed her and she fell, hitting her head on weights that were on the floor, Kelley said. Angry, Castillo left for work, not knowing that she had died until he returned home and found her lying in the same position.

Castillo said calling for help "did not make much sense to him," Kelley testified. He admitted to cutting up his wife's body so he could dispose of her more easily, Kelley said.

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