Los Angeles

Man Arrested in Santa Monica Slaying

A 42-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder in the death in Santa Monica earlier this year of an 18-year-old found with a single gunshot wound to the head, authorities announced Friday.

Juan Sebastian Castillo who played football at Santa Monica High School and graduated last year, was found just after 5 a.m. on Feb. 26, lying on the ground in the 1300 block of 16th Street, near the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center, police said.

Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene, according to Santa Monica police Lt. Saul Rodriguez.

"Through extensive and thorough investigative efforts, detectives have been able to link Juan Castillo's death to a shooting that occurred earlier that morning about 12:45 a.m. in the 2100 block of Pico Boulevard and the identification of a possible suspect,'' Rodriguez said.

The Pico Boulevard location is about a mile away from where Castillo was found.

The suspect, identified as Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa of Los Angeles, was arrested Wednesday morning, according to sheriff's inmate records.

He was charged today by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office with one count of murder and two counts of being a felon in possession of a loaded firearm.

Espinosa appeared today at the Airport Courthouse, where his arraignment was continued to June 5, according to the District Attorney's Office, which reported that he remains in custody with bail set at $3 million.

No motive for the killing has been established, but investigators continue to work that angle of the case, according to Rodriguez, who said the suspect and victim had no known prior relationship.

Castillo's grieving father still wears his son's varsity jacket, Rodriguez said.

Anyone with information about the killing was urged to call the detectives investigating the case at 310-458-8478 or 310-458-8949. Santa Monica police also can be reached at 310-458-8478. Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-TIPS.

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