NorCal man convicted of beheading girlfriend with samurai sword during argument

A Northern California man was found guilty of first-degree murder for beheading his girlfriend with a samurai sword on a city street last year.

A San Mateo County jury returned the verdict against Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta, 34, on Monday and found an "aggravating factor" that he used a sword in the killing.

On Tuesday, jurors found that there were four other aggravating factors, including causing great bodily injury.

Karina Castro, the 27-year-old mother of Landaeta’s then-1-year-old daughter, was killed outside her apartment in San Carlos on Sept. 8, 2022. Castro also had another daughter.

Witnesses testified that they saw the two arguing in the street before Solano got a sword from his car and attacked Castro as she ran.

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During the three-week trial, the prosecution asserted that the defendant was motivated to kill Castro out of vengeance as their relationship devolved into threats and insults, the Bay Area News Group reported.

The defense argued that he is stricken with schizophrenia, was not taking his medication and attacked Castro after she attacked him with a small knife while his mind was clouded by earlier threats from her, the news group reported.

Castro’s father, Martin Castro Jr., said he was satisfied with the verdict following Monday’s conviction, the news group reported.

"I’m going to wake up tomorrow, and she’s still not going to be here," he said outside the courthouse. "But I know he’s not going to be on the street. It might help us move on; everything’s been on hold."

The jury’s finding of aggravating factors could affect Solano’s sentence. He could face 26 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 9.