For release on August 7, 2012
James Leonard, Deputy District Attorney
SAN JOSE MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MURDEROUS CRIME SPREE
Paul Ray Castillo, a 34-year-old San Jose felon, will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole after being found guilty Tuesday of charges stemming from a brazen and bloody crime spree. Over 10 days last year, Castillo stole two cars, tried to drive over a police officer, shot a man during a robbery and shot and killed a woman he had kidnapped during a carjacking.
Castillo is expected to be sentenced Aug. 30, 2012 after pleading guilty and no contest to nine felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, auto theft and the murder of Cindy Nguyen, a 60-year-old real estate agent and mother of three.
“As tragic and senseless as Cindy Nguyen's death was, we are lucky that Paul Castillo did not kill anyone else," Deputy District Attorney James Leonard said. “While it does not make his victims whole, the plea in this case guarantees that Paul Castillo will never return to the community to harm anyone again.” The spree began on Sept. 6, 2011 when Castillo asked to test drive a San Jose man’s Nissan 300ZX and then drove off. Three days later, Castillo pointed a gun at a woman during a road rage incident. Three days after that, another San Jose man discovered Castillo breaking into his car. When the man tried to stop the burglary, Castillo got into his stolen car and tried to run him over. Two days later, Castillo walked up to a man at a San Jose shopping center and pointed a gun at him. He demanded the man’s wallet, iPhone and jewelry, and drove away. Two days after that, on Sept. 16, 2011 Castillo tried to rob a man at a gas station in San Jose. When the victim refused to hand over his money, Castillo shot him and then fled. The victim survived. An hour later, Castillo was in the parking lot of The Plant shopping center in San Jose when he carjacked Ms. Nguyen. A witness saw him punch her, wrestle her into her own Lexus and then drive away. That evening, officers tracked down Castillo who was driving Ms. Nguyen’s white Lexus on King Road in San Jose. Castillo aimed the car at an officer, who fired his weapon. Castillo crashed the car, but escaped. The next day, officers found Ms. Nguyen’s dead body wrapped in a carpet in the garage of Castillo’s sister. Blindfolded and handcuffed, Ms. Nguyen had been shot at close range in the head, with the same .357 Magnum that was used in the shooting of the man at the gas station. Getting assistance from friends and employees of a marijuana collective, Castillo made it as far as a Sacramento pizzeria. When arrested, police found that he had a bullet wound in his chest from the gun of the San Jose police officer he had tried to run over. After removing it from his body, Castillo kept the bullet in his pocket, where it was found along with marijuana. District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen said, “For a little bit more than a week, Paul Castillo terrorized and devastated our community. Now he will spend the rest of his life in prison. He will die behind bars.’’