Whittier Man Sentenced 50 Years to Life in Prison in Fatal Shooting of Girlfriend

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A man found guilty of murder in the 2017 shooting of his girlfriend in their Whittier home could spend the rest of his life in prison, officials announced Tuesday.

Rafael Ayala Castillo, 57, was sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Rafael Castillo is seen in a photo released by Whittier police on Sept. 12, 2017.
Rafael Castillo is seen in a photo released by Whittier police on Sept. 12, 2017.

A jury last November found him guilty of first-degree murder, as well as a special allegation that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm that caused great bodily injury and death.

Officials said the victim, 54-year-old Sandra Rodriguez Polanco, had been in a relationship with Castillo for almost a decade and shared an apartment with him in the 11700 block of Floral Drive in Whittier when the incident took place.

According to court testimony, a relative of Polanco’s went to the residence on Sept. 12, 2017 and found the victim with a gunshot wound to the head.

Authorities responded to the scene and started searching for Castillo, who was found and detained in Reseda that afternoon, prosecutors said.

Witnesses testified that the couple had been having relationship issues before the murder, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

The Whittier Police Department investigated the case.

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