Castleberry pleads ‘no contest’ to manslaughter

Could face up to 11 years in prison for death of Luis Vargas Quintero

Castleberry pleads  ‘no contest’  to manslaughterBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Ridgecrest resident Richard Castleberry, 31, plead no contest to felony voluntary manslaughter for the May killing of Luis Vargas Quintero according to an Aug. 11 press release from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

According to reports – Castleberry and Quintero were both patrons of Triple T’s Tavern, formerly on East Ridgecrest Boulevard, in the early hours of May 26, 2019, and left close to 2 a.m. as the business was closing. Staff asked Castleberry to leave the premises after they allegedly caught him urinating on the building.

Castleberry became aggressive and punched Quintero, who reportedly happened to be standing near by, who fell and hit his head on a parked car and then on the pavement. Quintero was pronounced dead within the hour from blunt-force trauma to the head.

After killing Quintero, Castleberry reportedly fled and was chased by witnesses. Ridgecrest Police Department officers ultimately arrived and arrested Castleberry.

“Castleberry and Quintero were not acquaintances, were not visiting the bar together, and there was no evidence suggesting the two had a prior altercation leading up to the unprovoked assault by Castleberry,” said the release.

Castleberry plead to the charge of voluntary manslaughter with a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison. Charges of first-degree murder and assault were dismissed in accord with the plea.

“This case is a tragic reminder that aggressive and violent behavior too often results in fatal consequences,” said D.A. Cynthia Zimmer. “So-called ‘one-punch homicide’ cases inflict the same loss of life as other homicide crimes, but in some instances without evident intent to kill.”

Castleberry’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14, 1:30 p.m. in Bakersfield.

Story First Published: 2020-08-14