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

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. (KGO) -- A Bay Area man has been found guilty of first-degree murder for beheading his ex-girlfriend with a samurai sword in the middle of a San Carlos 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 the street in September 2022.

Monday was an emotional day for Castro's family who are now looking after the victim's young children.

VIDEO: Man admits to beheading San Carlos mother of 2 with samurai sword in Sept.

An ABC7 I-Team exclusive interview from the San Mateo County Jail: Rafa Solano admits to killing a mother of two with a samurai sword in September.

Outside the courthouse, her father, Marty Castro, said he's relieved with the conviction but not as much as he'd like to be.

"While I'm glad he's going to be in prison for as long as humanly possible, my daughter is still gone," Marty Castro said.

Robert Cummings is Solano's defense attorney. He said Solano was positive he would walk out of the courtroom a free man.

"He doesn't have delusions or whatever but he was pretty sure he was going to walk out the front door," Cumming said.

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Contentious Snapchat messages may shed light on days leading up to San Carlos beheading

In the day before the murder, Snapchat messages between the young woman and suspect got very contentious, with her threatening to tell the world about a rape conviction involving a minor.

In a jailhouse interview earlier this year, Solano told ABC7 News I-team Reporter Dan Noyes that he killed Castro in self-defense, claiming Castro threatened him over social media.

ABC7 was told the two were in an ongoing relationship and had a child together. Law enforcement sources say Solano had been violent with Castro, leading her to get a temporary restraining order against him in April 2022.

The San Mateo District Attorney said Castro never called police when Solano violated the order.

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

Cummings said what happened in this case was a psychotic break. He said Solano is schizophrenic and it was his client's paranoid thoughts that drove his actions.

"I think California needs to change the way it treats paranoid schizophrenics who have proven that they have issues," Cummings said.

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Solano faces 26 years to life in prison.

"They did the best they possibly could and got us as much justice as we could get," Marty Castro said.

Castro said Karina was his oldest daughter who loved her kids more than anything, one of them she shared with Solano.

"My daughter was my life and I just want her back," Castro said.

Deliberations on aggravated factors continue Tuesday morning but does not change the guilty verdict.

Sentencing will be scheduled after that.

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