One of two brothers convicted of the execution-style killings of a Baldwin Park couple has been sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, setting the stage for the sentencing this week of the older brother, who the prosecution says instigated the murders.
Lorenzo Carlos, 35, of Highland Park, was sentenced last week by Pomona Superior Court Judge Sam Cianchetti. He pleaded guilty last fall to killing Abel Castaneda, 32, and his wife, Mireya, 29.
Francisco Carlos, 45, is scheduled for sentencing Thursday in Pomona Superior Court, where the Rosemead resident probably will face a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Milton said. A jury in January convicted Francisco Carlos of multiple murders during a robbery, which means that "special circumstance" provisions of state law probably will be applied to the case, Milton said.
Deputy Public Defender Henry Bastien, however, has asked the judge to strike the special circumstances and impose on Francisco, in the interest of fairness, the same sentence given his brother, or to grant a new trial. If a new trial were granted, Bastien said, his client might plead guilty--in effect waiving his right to appeal his conviction--in return for a 30-years-to-life sentence.
"At this stage," Bastien said, "it looks a little bleak for the home team."
Beaten, Strangled, Shot
Special circumstances allegations against Lorenzo Carlos were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea, Milton said.
The Castanedas were beaten with table legs, choked and stabbed before being shot to death on March 24, 1983, in their Baldwin Park furniture factory.
The couple's two young children witnessed most of the attack before fleeing, and their testimony was largely responsible for Francisco Carlos' conviction, Milton said.
The violence erupted after Abel Castaneda ended a business partnership with his brother-in-law, Romero Romero. Romero, whose wife is the daughter of Francisco Carlos, was unhappy with the settlement terms and filed a civil suit to decide the matter, Milton said. Meanwhile, the financial pinch had forced the Romeros to move in with Francisco Carlos, who eventually decided to settle the business dispute with a gun, Milton said.
"Francisco and Lorenzo Carlos both went over there with .38-caliber revolvers and basically executed them," Milton said.