May death ruled a homicide

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Kern County coroner’s office reported earlier this week that the manner of Luis Fernando Vargas Quintero’s May 26 death was homicide.

Quintero, 29, was reportedly in an altercation with suspect Richard Castleberry, 31, outside of Triple T’s Tavern in the 100 block of East Ridgecrest Boulevard the morning he died. According to the Ridgecrest Police Department, Officer Joshua Beard was patrolling the area at approximately 1:50 a.m. that morning when he saw Quintero fall to the ground in the parking lot as Castleberry reportedly fled the scene.

An investigation revealed that Castleberry appeared to have punched Quintero in the head, knocking him to the ground. Castleberry was arrested and booked in the Kern County Jail in Mojave.

While Officer Beard pursued and detained the suspect, other officers and first responders convened in the parking lot where Quintero’s head wound was treated and he transported to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries at around 2:40 a.m.

The recent coroner’s report confirmed that blunt force head trauma was the cause of death with contributing factors of cocaine and ethanol intoxication and other health issues.

Castleberry faces one felony charge of first-degree murder and is being held on $1 million bail. His preliminary hearings are scheduled for mid December in Bakersfield.

Story First Published: 2019-11-01