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Teenager Gets Life in Prison for Killing Mother

A Lynwood teenager who said two “Scream” films influenced him to stab his mother to death was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, while his cousin was sentenced to 25 years to life for his role in the 1998 slaying.

Before the sentencing, Mario Padilla, 17, gave a statement to a probation officer saying his exposure to TV and movie horror caused him to “fantasize how to do things I could not do.” The explanation was read by Superior Court Judge John Cheroske, who during the trial had forbidden references to the “Scream” film.

“I have been watching television since the age of 7. It’s ironic how people say do not let your kids watch TV at that age, because it really does affect them,” said Cheroske, quoting Padilla.

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Samuel Ramirez, 16, was convicted of helping hold down Gina Castillo, 37, while Padilla stabbed her 45 times Jan. 13, 1998, said Dist. Atty’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons. Both youths were also convicted of conspiring to kill five other people, including Pedro Castillo, Padilla’s stepfather.

On audio taped confessions to sheriff’s deputies, the teenagers said they were prompted to kill and make threatening phone calls to fellow high school students after seeing the movies “Scream” and “Scream 2.”

Padilla and Ramirez confessed stabbing Castillo and robbing her to get money to buy grim reaper costumes like the killers in the movies wore.

Public defender Paul Golub said Padilla suffered from mental illness and had not been fit for trial. He asked Cheroske that the youth be housed in a psychiatric clinic. The judged refused, saying that the slayings showed careful planning and sophistication, which made him a threat to society.

Ramirez did not speak at the sentencing, but attorney Joan Whiteside Green said he expressed remorse for the slayings.


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