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Cold case closes when Colorado man pleads guilty to killing 2 men in Huntington Beach in 1994

Cold case closes when Colorado man pleads guilty to killing 2 men in Huntington Beach in 1994
Lamberto Castillo is pictured in his 1996 California DMV photo, left, and his 2017 booking photo. (Courtesy of Huntington Beach Police Department)

A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting deaths of two men in downtown Huntington Beach in 1994, according to court documents.

Lamberto Ricci Castillo, 66, of Alamosa, Colo., pleaded guilty Nov. 16 in Orange County Superior Court to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one sentencing enhancement allegation of use of a firearm, court records show. He initially had been charged with two counts of murder.

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He was sentenced to 19 years and four months in California state prison.

The plea agreement closed the case more than two decades after Kenny Paul Sommer and his friend Chen “Cosmo” Maui Blanchard were killed March 31, 1994.

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Authorities said Sommer and Blanchard, both 23, were socializing in downtown Huntington Beach when Castillo confronted them near Main Street and Orange Avenue.

Castillo may have challenged Sommer and Blanchard for urinating on the street, Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy said in May 2017. The three argued and Castillo walked away. Forty-five minutes later, at about 10:15 p.m., he returned with a handgun, authorities said.

Sommer and Blanchard were shot multiple times and were pronounced dead at the scene. The shooter fled.

The Huntington Beach Police Department reopened the case in 2016 and reached out to the Orange County Cold Case Homicide Task Force to help in the investigation.

Castillo was arrested April 27, 2017, in Alamosa following “newly developed evidence” in the case, Huntington Beach police and the Orange County district attorney’s office said.

Castillo had been living in rural Alamosa County for about 10 years before he was arrested, according to the Alamosa News.

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