Trial Ordered for Man Accused in 2003 Killing of Former Girlfriend Outside Carlsbad Taco Shop

A man accused in the shooting death of a Carlsbad mother of three who had broken off their brief dating relationship must stand trial on a murder charge with a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, a judge ruled Monday.

Gilberto Mendoza Castillo, 38, is charged in the death of 31-year-old Maria Munoz.

Castillo was arrested in Mexico after earlier this year and returned to the United States. Following a preliminary hearing today in Vista, Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein found that enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial Oct. 15.

At Castillo's April 3 arraignment, Deputy District Attorney Ryan Saunders said the victim dated Castillo for about a month before ending the relationship. Munoz and Castillo worked together for a couple of years at in Carlsbad, the prosecutor said. Castillo found out that Munoz was picking up a man at the taco shop the night of Dec. 7, 2003, and waited for them, according to the prosecutor. Castillo then approached with a gun and shot her six times, Saunders alleged. Her companion survived. An arrest warrant for Castillo was issued 12 days later, but he remained a fugitive until his arrest in Mexico. In addition to murder, Castillo is charged with attempted murder of the man who was with Munoz when she was killed, as well as an allegation of infliction of great bodily injury under circumstances of domestic violence.

It was not immediately clear whether Castillo would face the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

–City News Service


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