Man takes plea deal in murder case

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — A Salisbury man with ties to a Mexican gang took a plea deal Thursday in the 2011 death of Guillermo Montes-Gonzales.
Jose Daniel Torres Castro, also known as Daniel Torres and Daniel Castro, was sentenced in Rowan Superior Court to just more than 10 years to 13 years in prison for second-degree murder.
Castro, 25, has been in the Rowan County Detention Center since his July 2011 arrest. He was charged with first-degree murder.
Castro will be given credit for the time he spent while awaiting trial.
He accepted an Alford plea, which allows him to acknowledge prosecutors could likely obtain a guilty verdict while not admitting to the crime.
In mid-June 2011, Montes-Gonzales was shot four times in the chest and upper body at the home Castro shared with his mother, Maria Castro, on Harrison Road. He had gone there to drink, authorities said.
Montes-Gonzales’ body was found in a cul-de-sac at the end of Barley Run, off Oak Mountain Road in western Rowan County, several miles away. Investigators suspected the killing was drug-related.
A few weeks after the shooting, Castro was arrested during a traffic stop in Texas. He was extradited back to Rowan County.
District Attorney Brandy Cook said Montes-Gonzales’ wife, Magali Solano Garcia, told investigators her husband came home from work that day. He later left to hang out at the “mechanic’s house,” later identified as Castro’s uncle, Jose Armando Torres-Torres.
Torres-Torres told authorities the victim left his house around 11 p.m., the prosecutor said.
Maria Castro asked Torres-Torres, her brother in law, to move a blue van for her. The van belonged to the victim. It was parked at her Harrison Road home.
Maria Castro reportedly told Torres-Torres that she killed Montes-Gonzales, thinking that would make him help her. He refused to help, Cook said.
When detectives arrived at Castro’s home, the van was still parked there with the windows busted out. No one could tell detectives why the van was parked at the home.
Detectives searched the home and found two speed loaders in Jose Castro’s bedroom for a .38-caliber revolver, the same ammunition used to kill Montes-Gonzales.
Investigators concluded Jose Castro’s sister, Cecilia Torres Castro, hid his Honda for two days. The car was found at a home in Mocksville.
Investigators spoke with Castro’s cousin in South Carolina who told them “when Castro drank, he pulled guns,” the prosecutor said.
Montes-Gonzales’ wife, Magali Solano Garcia, said through an interpreter the couple’s three children still don’t understand.
“They will have to do without him for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Castro’s attorney, Doug Smith of Salisbury, told the court his client had remained employed and supports three children. Smith said his client contends someone else, whom he only knows as Raphael or “Rafi,” shot Montes-Gonzales.
Smith said his client’s life was threatened and that’s why he left the state.
Castro spoke briefly through an interpreter and said he considered Montes-Gonzales a friend.
“I also feel very bad, especially what his family is going through,” he said.
Cook told the court there was enough evidence to prove Castro shot Montes-Gonzales.
“If he was not the shooter then why would his sister say he was the shooter?” Cook asked.
The investigation showed Castro was a part of La Familia Michoacana, a Mexican drug cartel that’s now disbanded. He is in the U.S. illegally and will be deported after serving his prison sentence, authorities said.
Castro does not have a prior record and could’ve received as much as 20 years.
His mother, Maria Castro, 39, remains in the Rowan County jail under a $125,000 bond, charged with being an accessory after the fact.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.