SANTA MONICA—On Tuesday, August 21, following a jury trial, Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa, 43, of Los Angeles, was found guilty of second degree murder and the use of a firearm in the murder of Juan Sebastian Castillo. This case was prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

In a press release sent to Canyon News from the Santa Monica Police Department, Espinosa is scheduled for sentencing on October 12, 2018 at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Airport Branch – Case SA095642. He could face up to 40 years to life in state prison.

On February 26, 2017 at 5:08 a.m., Juan Castillo, 18, was found deceased in the 1300 block of 16th Street with a single gunshot wound to the head. An extensive and thorough investigation conducted by the SMPD, it was determined that Castillo’s death was related to an earlier shooting that transpired at about 12:45 a.m. on February 26, 2017 in the 2100 block of Pico Boulevard. After several months of investigation, Espinosa was arrested on May 19, 2017.

In May 2017, Sgt. Rudy Flores of the SMPD informed Canyon News via email, “At this time in the investigation detectives are not providing a motive to this shooting.  Based on the information that we have, there is no indication there was a relationship between Castillo or Espinosa.”

Canyon News reached out to Ricardo Santiago with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office regarding the case. In terms of a possible motive, Santiago said, “Regarding motive, the victim and the defendant had a brief run-in before the defendant ran to his car and got the gun.”

Castillo graduated from Santa Monica High School in 2016, where he played on the school’s football team. This is the second death of a Samohi student in 2017. In February 2017, another student, Kelly Cano died from an unknown illness. A GoFundMe page was created seeking “Justice” for Castillo. All money collected went to his parents Lulu and Jorge Castillo.

Written By Casey Jacobs and Katie Trojano