On January 15, 1986, police officers and
firefighters were summoned to a house fire in Daly City. Inside the
house, the officers found the bodies of Maria Victoria Holmes, aged
52, and her daughter, Luisa Anna Castro, 32.
The evidence indicated that two fires (one upstairs,
and one downstairs) had been intentionally set, probably through the
use of some flammable liquid. Victim Holmes evidently had been
severely beaten and kicked. Her body showed extensive contusions and
abrasions; her face was swollen and bloody. An autopsy indicated she
died from 12 or more blows to her head [6 Cal.4th 15] and face. Victim
Castro's body was burned beyond recognition; a large knife was found
nearby. An autopsy determined, however, that she had died from
strangulation; a wire was found wrapped tightly around her neck.
Further investigation revealed the following facts:
Victim Holmes was a hotel manager who wore expensive jewelry and
possessed an extensive collection of gold jewelry from Central America.
She shared her home with her daughter, victim Castro, a nightclub
security guard, who was currently dating defendant, a customer of the
club. Castro also had a collection of gold jewelry and frequently
boasted of it. On the night of the murders, Castro had prepared dinner
for defendant at her home after they had driven her children to a
babysitter. Later that evening, someone murdered the two women, stole
their jewelry, and set fire to their home in an apparent attempt to
cover up the crimes.
Defendant was arrested after a girlfriend, Roshaun
Fuller, told police that he had admitted assaulting the women and
taking their jewelry. According to Fuller, defendant stated he "knocked
out" Castro and, when victim Holmes came upstairs to investigate, he
knocked her down and kicked her in the head. Defendant had been seen
wearing, and later pawning, some gold jewelry, although it could not
positively be traced to the victims.
Defendant also admitted to the investigating
officers some facts regarding his relationship with Castro, including
sharing dinner with her at her home on or about the night of the
murders. According to defendant, he left the house after Castro had
become intoxicated and fallen asleep. Although defendant denied
killing the women, at one point he told the interrogating officer that,
"I probably did do it, but you are not going to get me to say I did do