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Man accused of nearly beheading woman in Northern California will undergo mental evaulation

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A man accused of killing the mother of his child with a sword last week in Northern California will undergo a mental competency exam, putting the case on pause.

The defense requested the evaluation for Jose Rafael Solano Landaeta during his arraignment Monday in San Mateo County Superior Court, where he is charged with murder, with a special allegation of using a deadly weapon and enhancements of causing great bodily injury and of a serious felony.

Landaeta, 33, was arrested Thursday afternoon after San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies were flagged down in San Carlos regarding an assault in progress. Deputies found “an obviously deceased female” in the street, Lt. Eamonn Allen said Thursday at a news conference. She was later identified as Karina Castro, 27.

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Landaeta allegedly used a “samurai sword” to nearly decapitate the victim, San Mateo County Dist. Atty. Steve Wagstaffe said in an interview with The Times.

“It’s a horrific murder because of the manner in which the victim lost their life,” Wagstaffe said.

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Castro had a restraining order against Landeata at the time of her death, Wagstaffe said.

Castro and Landeata had a 1-year-old child together, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Castro had another daughter, who is 7.

Landaeta will be held without bail during the mental exam, which could take up to two months, Wagstaffe said.

If convicted, he faces up to 26 years to life in prison.

The crime scene in San Carlos, between San Francisco and San Jose, was shocking, and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department has offered support to witnesses and first responders.

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Many people saw the attack, which took place in the open street, Wagstaffe said.

“I do know that the deputies that first arrived on scene were a little beset by the scene,” Allen said Thursday. “We’re providing them peer support.”

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