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Wife Killer Receives Life Sentence for Strangulation, Dismemberment

'I've lost the woman I loved most,' says the Panorama City man, who was convicted of first-degree murder.

October 16, 2002|Tracy Wilson | Times Staff Writer

A Panorama City tile setter convicted of first-degree murder for strangling his wife, cutting her body up and dumping her remains off the Ventura County coast was sentenced Tuesday to life in state prison.

Alfonso Castillo, 38, apologized for his crime during a sentencing hearing in Ventura County Superior Court. He told the judge: "I've lost more than anyone. I've lost the woman I loved most and I've lost my life."

Castillo told the judge he never meant to kill his wife, Deputy Dist. Atty. Chris Harmon said. But the prosecutor argued that the defendant was a coward who had shown no genuine remorse.

Castillo was arrested Dec. 6 after a Ventura County sheriff's deputy stopped to investigate an illegally parked truck on Pacific Coast Highway near Mugu Rock and saw that he was splattered with blood.

Castillo told the officer he had a cut arm and had stopped to dispose of a cat he had run over. But deputies shining lights on the water saw human limbs floating in the surf.

The victim was later identified as Maria Pinaloza Ambario, 34, a Pacoima factory worker and Castillo's wife of two years.

At the couple's apartment, detectives found a bow saw, plastic sheeting, knives and Ambario's heart in the garbage disposal.

At trial, defense attorney Doug Daily did not dispute that Castillo had killed his wife. But he argued there was no evidence of premeditation to support a finding of first-degree murder.

Judge Herbert Curtis III, who decided the case after Castillo waived his right to a jury trial, disagreed. He ruled that brain hemorrhages found during an autopsy showed that Castillo choked Ambario for several minutes--enough time to form a deliberate intent to kill.

Castillo will be eligible for parole after 25 years.

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