Prosecutors in the trial of a man accused of strangling and dismembering his wife wrapped up their case Tuesday with testimony from one of his former girlfriends, who said she had taken out a restraining order against him after he forced her to have sex.
Alfonso Castillo, 38, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Maria Pinaloza Ambario, whose remains were found off the Ventura County coast in December. Prosecutors believe the Panorama City resident killed his 34-year-old wife after she threatened to leave him.
Through an interpreter, Castillo's former girlfriend told Ventura County Superior Court Judge Herbert Curtis III that one night, Castillo forced her into his truck, took her back to his apartment and sexually assaulted her. She said he later dropped her off near her residence. When she arrived home, her sister-in-law called police.
Though she was distraught at the time, the woman said she didn't want to report the crime because she was embarrassed, hurt and frightened. Instead, she got a restraining order against Castillo.
Defense attorney Doug Daily pointed out that she declined to press charges against his client, suggesting that a rape did not occur. He maintained that the woman, who testified under the pseudonym Jane Doe, wasn't forced into Castillo's truck and could have left when they stopped at a liquor store on the way to his apartment.
Later Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors played portions of surveillance tapes from Castillo's apartment complex that showed a shadowy figure moving around in his apartment during the night of Dec. 5 and into the morning of Dec. 6. The tape also shows a male making several trips to Castillo's truck, at one point carrying a large light-colored trash bag, which he drops in the back of the truck.
Shortly before 7 a.m., the tape shows, a male holding two white plastic trash bags walks from the stairway near Castillo's apartment and drops them in a trash bin. The male in the tape was wearing a jacket that was later recovered from Point Mugu near the spot where the remains of Castillo's wife were found, Senior Sheriff's Deputy Donald Jennings testified.
Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Hendren testified that he searched a trash bin at Castillo's apartment complex Dec. 6 and found it nearly filled with women's clothing inside plastic bags.
Amid the clothing, he discovered Ambario's identification card, which had been cut into small pieces, along with torn pages from an address book and an assortment of mail addressed to her.
A county forensic specialist also testified that several areas of Castillo's apartment tested positive for traces of blood. Vern Traxler with the Ventura County Sheriff's Crime Lab said he checked the apartment with chemicals that can detect blood, and traces were found on the kitchen sink, counter and floor, as well as on the sink and toilet lid in the hallway bathroom, he said.
Dr. Janice Frank, Ventura County assistant chief medical examiner, who performed the autopsy on Ambario, testified that hemorrhages around Ambario's eyes and at the base of her skull showed she died of asphyxiation before being dismembered.