REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KION-TV/FOX-35)- UPDATE ON JAN. 30, 2024 AT 12:55 PM- A San Mateo County Superior Court judge on Tuesday sentenced a man to 26 years to life in prison after he was convicted of beheading his child's mother outside a home in San Carlos with a sword.
Judge Lisa Novak also said that the sentence she imposed on Jose Landaeta, 34, of Hayward does not feel sufficient, but is what she is required to do by law.
"This is by far, the most difficult trial I've ever presided over, because of the true horror of the crime you've committed in butchering Ms. Castro," Novak said.
Novak then called Landaeta "clever and manipulative" as he tried a mental health defense to deny responsibility for how he killed his ex.
"I want to be very clear," the judge said. "Untreated mental illness had nothing to do with your execution for Karina Castro."
In November, a jury found Landeta, the estranged boyfriend of Karina Castro, 27, guilty of the gruesome attack that happened on Sept. 8, 2022.
He killed Castro in broad daylight on a street, just feet from her apartment.
Castro and Landaeta shared a young daughter, and Castro also had an older daughter from a previous relationship.
Before he was sentenced, Castro's grandmother, Danielle Ganon, implored the judge to spare no mercy.
"Please punish this monster to the fullest extent the law allows," Ganon said.
She said her granddaughters still have nightmares and cry for their mother.
Mya Castro also spoke before the court, describing how her sister was the "glue that held our family together."
She said she is still "swallowed by rage" about what happened.
"Where there should be peace, there is horror," Castro said. "We are not whole, we never will be again."
Man accused of beheading ex-girlfriend in San Carlos with a samurai sword to stand trial
UPDATE Feb. 12, 2023, at 4:21 p.m. — The man accused of beheading the mother of his daughter with a samurai sword in San Carlos will stand trial for her murder, announced San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe.
Jose Solano Landaeta, 33 was held to answer on all charges during a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
The trial is set to start on March 23 in Redwood City.
Man accused of beheading ex-girlfriend in San Carlos with a samurai sword admits to her murder
UPDATE Feb. 2 12, 2023, at 4:21 p.m. — The man accused of beheading the mother of his daughter with a samurai sword in San Carlos admitted to her murder, the man told a Bay Area station Friday during a jailhouse interview.
Jose Solano Landaeta, 33, said 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. He says that he went to her apartment to try to de-escalate the situation.
He claimed they had argued over Snapchat messages where Castro threatened to blast him on social media over his statutory rape conviction ten years ago. Landaeta called her "snitch lips" and warns her "f*** around and find out," per Snapchat messages obtained by a Bay Area station.
He said Castro retrieved a knife from her car and walked towards him. He claims he used the samurai sword in self-defense. He said the sword was a decorative sword that his father had, but it was sharp.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says that's not the case at all. "We don't think that that accords with the evidence that we've been able to collect in this case so far."
No, you know, this is a case that didn't occur in a closed room somewhere. It occurred out on the street in San Carlos, with lots of people walking by, and lots of people who witnessed this what occurred? We haven't had reports of any reports of her being armed with a knife or anybody even seen a knife much less using a knife.Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney
Landaeta says he has been living with schizophrenia since he was 10 years old and he hopes he gets a lighter sentence or serves his time in a mental hospital.
"I understand what he wants. The state prison is full of people who wish they had a lighter sentence," said Wagstaffe.
DA: Man accused of beheading woman in San Carlos arraigned on murder with samurai sword
UPDATE Sept. 12, 2022, at 3:21 p.m. — The man accused of hacking his ex-girlfriend's head off with a samurai sword in San Carlos has been arraigned in court Monday, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Jose Solano Landaeta, 33, of San Carlos, was arraigned on a felony count of murder with the special circumstance that he used a samurai sword. He faces 26 years to life if convicted, one year for using a samurai sword, Wagstaffe told KION.
Wagstaffe said Solano Landaeta swung at his ex-girlfriend Karina Castro's neck multiple times before she was decapitated. He did not specify the number of times, just saying it was excessive.
Solano Landaeta is being held with no bail and had a criminal restraining order placed against Castro's two children. Wagstaffe said he is the father of the one-year-old girl.
He is scheduled for court Tuesday for an appointment with doctors who will evaluate if Solano Landaeta is competent enough to stand trial. He must be evaluated before entering a plea.
San Carlos woman beheaded by sword in the middle of the street, suspect ID'd
A woman was beheaded Thursday in San Carlos, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. She was murdered near Laurel Street and Magnolia Avenue at 11:50 a.m.
Jose Solano Landaeta, 33, of San Carlos, allegedly used a sword to behead the woman in front of witnesses. According to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, the adult male suspect was detained and arrested for murder.
The woman was 27-year-old Karina Castro, was the mother of two daughters, ages seven and one, according to the family.
After the killing, the suspect walked about two blocks away from the scene, where he was later detained after coming back unarmed, according to Lt. Eamonn Allen of the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.
“We can confirm that a stabbing instrument was used in the commission of the crime and that the weapon is outstanding,” the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “The suspect is known to the victim, and this is believed to be an isolated incident.”
Allen added the crime happened outside the victim's home, and her children did not witness the crime. Castro is the father of the one-year-old, according to KTVU.
Castro’s father, Martin Castro, cried watching firefighters wash blood stains off of the pavement where his daughter died.
"She was an amazing girl. She was a great mom. She was my daughter," he said. "The most caring person I've known. She always had my back." Martin Castro told KTVU.
Martin Castro said Landaeta gave him a bad feeling from day one “I didn’t like him from day one. He’s been nothing but trouble since the day he came into her life. When she got pregnant by him, my heart dropped,” he told KRON.
The victim and suspect had an ongoing relationship. A neighbor was in shock and told Telemundo 48 that they moved to the area three years ago and "seemed like they loved each other." Karina had a restraining order against Castro, Martin said.
The suspect also had a violent criminal history and mental health issues, according to our Telemundo affiliate.
Solano Landaeta had to be taken to the hospital at the time of his arrest but was quickly released and booked into San Mateo County Jail, according to deputies.
“Karina Castro was tragically beheaded. Her family is brokenhearted by her gruesome murder. She leaves behind two beautiful daughters, ages 1 and 7,” a GoFundMe page says.
City leaders organized a donation fund to assist Castro's children.
Mayor Sara McDowell and the San Carlos City Council issued a statement saying, “Our community was shocked by the tragic murder of a young mother. The City Council and its employees join our community in expressing our deepest condolences to the two young children who lost their mother in this horrific and senseless act of violence.”
Landaeta was supposed to be arraigned Friday at 1:30 p.m., but his first court appearance has been moved to Monday.