Man Sentenced to 40 Years to Life in Prison for Murder of Santa Monica Teen

A judge sentenced a Los Angeles man to 40 years to life in prison Friday for the fatal shooting of a Santa Monica teen during an argument last year, authorities said.

Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa, 43, is seen in a booking photo released Aug. 22, 2018, by Santa Monica police.

Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa, 43, is seen in a booking photo released Aug. 22, 2018, by Santa Monica police.

Sherwin Mendoza Espinosa, 43, shot and killed 18-year-old Juan Castillo in the 1300 block of 16th Street in Santa Monica on Feb. 26, 2017, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Santa Monica Police Department officials.

A jury convicted him in August of second-degree murder, along with the special allegation that he personally used a handgun in the crime, the district attorney’s office said in a written statement.

The two men became involved in an argument during a chance encounter, district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said. Espinosa retrieved a gun from his car.

“As the victim was attempting to leave in a car, the defendant fired at the vehicle and hit the teenager in the head,” prosecutors said in a written statement.

Juan Castillo is seen in an undated photo from a GoFundMe page.

Santa Monica police investigators arrested Espinosa in connection with the killing on May 17, 2017, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records.

The young victim graduated from Santa Monica High School months before his murder, as his father told KTLA shortly after the killing.

He played football for the school, which has since retired his number, 53, according to the Los Angeles Times. His father also said he planned on enlisting with the U.S. Marines.

“He was a great kid, he was ready to serve the country,” Jorge Castillo told KTLA.