California man found guilty of murder for beheading ex-girlfriend with samurai sword

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Bay Area man found guilty of murder for beheading ex-girlfriend
Rafa Solano has been found guilty of first-degree murder after he beheaded his ex-girlfriend with a samurai sword.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. -- A Northern California man has been found guilty of first-degree murder for beheading his ex-girlfriend with a samurai sword in the middle of a street in 2022.

The jury handed down their verdict Monday afternoon in a Redwood City courtroom.

They found Rafa Solano guilty of murdering 27-year-old Karina Castro in the middle of a street in San Carlos, a city in San Mateo County.

Officials say the crime happened in the street outside the victim's residence during an argument over Snapchat messages.

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In a strange twist to this case, Rafa Solano now claims he acted in self-defense when beheading Karina Castro.

ABC7's sister station KGO-TV was told the two were in an ongoing relationship and had a child together, but law enforcement sources say the victim got a temporary restraining order against the suspect in April 2022.

Family members of the victim, Castro, told KGO-TV that Solano was schizophrenic and on medication, something his family confirmed through his attorney.

Both law enforcement and Castro's family say that Solano had been violent with Castro, leading her to get a restraining order against him in April 2022. The San Mateo District Attorney said Castro never called police when Solano violated the order.

"I completely in no way, am critical of the victim in this. It's something that we see constantly in the domestic violence arena," DA Steve Wagstaffe said in 2022. "There's something called the cycle of domestic violence and this is one of them."

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Karina Castro's family says the suspect, the father of her 1-year-old daughter, is a diagnosed schizophrenic whose behavior would swing wildly depending on his balance of medications.

In February 2023, KGO-TV's I-Team reporter Dan Noyes spoke with Solano at the San Mateo County Jail.

Solano admitted to killing Castro. He claimed it was self-defense.

Solano's attorney questioned whether he is competent to stand trial, but after the judge ruled earlier this year that he is.

Solano and Castro argued over Snapchat messages.

She threatened to blast him on social media for his statutory rape conviction 10 years ago.

Solano said he hopes he'll get a lighter sentence because of his mental health issues, or he'll be able to serve whatever his sentence winds up being in a mental hospital.

"I understand what he wants. The state prison is full of people who wish they had a lighter sentence," Wagstaffe said.

Wagstaffe says Solano could face 26 years to life in prison.