Antonia Herrera invited Nosey to come back with her to San Diego and live with her at her place.
Nosey and Antonia were boyfriend and girlfriend not so long ago — they met on Valentine’s Day in 2016. It was a good time in his life then, when they were together, Nosey had a job at Walmart.
Nosey was a good-looking guy, but his nose was a little too long. That’s how he got the nickname. He was muscular and could look intimidating when he wanted, so not everybody called him by his nickname.Nosey and Antonia had broken up several months prior. It happened after some jerk offered money to Antonia to have sex with him. The lovely 23-year-old Latina was offended, and she was upset at the 25-year-old Nosey when he declined to beat the guy up.
Christian pulled into a Chevron in Perris and put $20 worth of gas into the car.
Nosey argued that the guy was so small that it would look bad. This was a disappointment to Antonia, and she abruptly decided it was time to move back to San Diego, where she was born and had spent most of her life.
Antonia had lived in Las Vegas for a couple years, but she always made it known that eventually she would move back to San Diego, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise. Nosey stayed behind in Vegas, with his job and family and the pals he had grown up with. He had lived all his 25 years in Las Vegas.
Antonia used her EBT card at the store’s ATM to get cash. Her boyfriend Nosey came into the store and was standing next to her.
So, when Antonia unexpectedly appeared at Nosey’s home that Sunday (January 8, 2017) she was definitely welcome. She stayed with Nosey for two days. She wanted to renew their relationship. She even invited him to come back with her to San Diego and live with her at her place.
How could he say no? At that moment, Nosey had no job or prospects, and his family life was in a difficult spot, too. It took Nosey about a day of looking around to find a ride for them, to travel the six hours to San Diego.
One of the bullets had grazed Nosey’s arm that was curled around Antonia.
Nosey knew a guy named Christian who sometimes worked as an Uber driver. Christian also worked as an electrician. He was doing well. They had been pals since grade school, and both had attended Durango High School. Christian was a couple years older, 27. They still got high together on marijuana and meth. Antonia offered $80 cash plus the cost of gasoline for a ride to San Diego; Christian agreed to drive them on the side, not as an Uber driver. Antonia had money on her Electronic Benefit Transfer card to finance the trip. Part of the welfare payout system, these cards average $125 per month in California.
Paul Castro. “Paul apologized,” Christian said later. “He was banging the gun against the side of his head.”
It was the middle of the night, just past midnight, in the early-morning minutes of Wednesday, January 11, 2017, when Nosey and Antonia climbed into the back of Christian’s nice car, a 2016 Chrysler 200 four-door sedan. He kept his car perfectly clean and polished.
It was cool but not cold in Vegas, maybe 56 degrees with hardly a breath of wind. The sky was clear and the big full moon made the metallic silver car glow.
Christian said he wanted to pick up his best friend Paul, who would keep him company and awake for the ride back to Vegas from San Diego.
The three men drove the whole way back to Las Vegas in Christian’s bullet-holed Chrysler.
Paul was the same age as Christian, 27. They had met in grade school and grew up together in Vegas. In fact, the three men in the car were all good friends; they went to the same schools and had been in the same street gang, though all three claimed to have left the gang life behind. But they all still hung out together and got high together. On that Tuesday night, they all smoked meth before they got into the car for the trip to San Diego.
When they left Sin City for the coast, they did not realize there were dark clouds gathering over a certain part of Southern California. They were going to drive into a storm. The trip would turn out to be unbelievably dangerous.
Christian drove and Paul rode in the front passenger seat. Nosey and Antonia rode in the back. The music was turned up and everybody sang along with the tunes. But about an hour into the ride Christian noticed that Paul was not singing. “He was quiet.” In fact, Paul hardly spoke at all. That was unusual. “He wasn’t himself.... I could tell he was uncomfortable.”
Christian would later tell cops, “He was the only one quiet in the car, the whole time.”
A prosecutor in San Diego County later claimed that Paul had been awake for five days straight, “fueled by his meth binge,” at the time of the shooting.
Nosey cuddled with Antonia in the big back seat, they shared photos on their cell phones. They also messaged to friends on Facebook. Neither wore their seat belts. When they drove into the rain, it seemed romantic to Nosey and Antonia. But Christian was squinting to see through the downpour. “It was raining, hard,” he said later. He tried changing his headlights from high beams to low beams, to see if it would improve his view. Paul noticed this.
They had been on the road almost five hours and got low on gas, so Christian pulled into a Chevron in Perris, California. Antonia needed to use the restroom and she hurried into the brightly lit store. It was still dark, about 4:43 a.m. The clouds blocked out the moon. Christian put $20 worth of gasoline into his car.
Cops later collected video from surveillance cameras at the gas station. They could plainly see Antonia when she came into the store, wearing a gray sweatshirt over blue jeans and black slippers. She used the bathroom and then went back to the car to fetch her EBT card.
Antonia used her EBT card at the store’s ATM to get cash. Her boyfriend Nosey came into the store and was standing next to her when she purchased some items.
Spread out on the counter was a sandwich, bag of chips, and some drinks. Cops collected a copy of the receipt later. Through the open doorway, the camera captured one side of Paul, he was wearing his favorite Raiders jacket, as usual. Christian stood outside near Paul, the two men smoked cigarettes and stretched their legs and dawdled a while. Antonia shared the drinks with her companions. Christian drank blue Gatorade and Nosey a Coke. Antonia had a vitamin water.
Though he spoke little, Paul kept leaning over to ask Christian where they were going, and Christian kept telling him, “San Diego.” Christian wondered at his old friend’s strange behavior. After a couple hours, Paul did something even stranger. “Maybe halfway through the ride,” Christian remembered, “he leaned over and asked if I was really going to kill him.” The music was loud and Paul yelled into Christian’s ear to ask his bizarre question. “I just brushed it off,” Christian said later. “I just sort of laughed and looked at him sort of crazy and just kept driving.”
Antonia used her cell phone to get directions as they drove. Eventually, everyone in the car noticed that Paul was not himself; he was jumpy. So Antonia made extra effort to comfort him. She knew the last part of their drive was going to be through the dark, unincorporated areas of North San Diego County, and she wanted Paul to know that in advance, so he wouldn’t be scared by the darkness and the rain. That turned out to be a huge mistake.
Christian said that Antonia had been giving him directions all along. “The last directions that she told me to do, she said we were going to go through some woods,” he remembered.
She must have noticed Paul turning in his front seat, to look back at her. The last words that Antonia ever spoke were, “What’s up, Paul?”
Paul had a job working at a Stop & Shop market, for a while. He got fired because he was acting so paranoid that it interfered with his work. For a month or so, Paul had been telling friends that “the cartel” or a Los Angeles gang was coming to get him. “He was always looking over his shoulder,” Christian remembered later. When Paul found gang graffiti in the bathroom of the Stop & Shop where he worked, he became so distracted with fear that his boss decided to let him go. His friends said it was a couple months, since about November 2016, that Paul began telling friends that people from his “past life” were after him.
“He thought someone was following him, trying to get him,” Christian knew. He tried to reassure Paul: “They will have to get us both, ’cause I’m with you.” Other friends tried to help Paul calm down in their own ways, “Just telling him he was trippin’.” It was not a secret he was fearful. “Everybody knew he was on edge, he was paranoid,” Christian told police. Things had become hard for Paul lately, first he lost his job, then he lost his apartment, plus he was having family troubles. “He hasn’t been doing no good. He was down on his luck,” Christian explained later.
Christian kept a handgun in the center console of his Chrysler. He lawfully purchased the gun: it was registered in his name, and it was completely legal as far as he was concerned. He needed it for protection. After all, he was an Uber driver, he reasoned. And keeping the loaded semi-automatic in his car was perfectly legal in the state of Nevada (though not in California). Paul was aware that Christian kept a loaded gun in his car. Christian did not know when Paul got ahold of his gun that night.
“I heard the slide rack back, on my gun.” Christian said that was the first he knew that Paul had his pistol. Then he heard a loud noise that set his ears ringing. At the same time Christian felt a blast, there was a pressure wave that hit his torso. He believed that he may have been shot and he reached around to feel his side, his ribs. He was unsure how many shots he heard, because of the shock of it and the ringing in his ears. And then, “There was a lot of yelling.”
After the gunshots, “A lot of arguing going on. He still had the gun in his hand.”
During the uproar, Paul shared his delusion that gangsters had kidnapped Christian’s two-year-old son and were holding him hostage, and that was how they persuaded him to be part of this murder plot, against Paul. Christian also learned that Paul believed he was “signaling” with his headlights during the drive in the rain.
They argued until Paul finally realized his mistake. “He apologized,” Christian said later. “He was banging the gun against the side of his head.”
Christian said he was able to calm Paul enough that he placed the gun at his feet, on the floorboards of the car, on the passenger side. Christian was still driving in the rain, in the dark, on the unfamiliar freeway. His ears were still ringing so bad, Christian could barely hear when Nosey spoke up, “He was saying that he got shot.”
One of the bullets had grazed Nosey’s arm that was curled around Antonia.
Nosey later remembered what happened that night when he answered a lawyer’s questions. He said Antonia was leaning against him, she was showing him photos on her phone. “I was holding her the whole time. He just turned around quickly and shot her. There was no warning. Just turned around and shot. I heard three shots.”
Nosey could barely speak later, he was so emotional. “My ears went out and I really couldn’t hear anything after that.” After his first shock he looked at Antonia. “Then I was trying to wake her up.”
It became plain that the young woman was dead. Christian pulled over, onto a road next to Highway 15 in the northern part of San Diego County. “I was surprised. I was in shock. I didn’t know what to do.” Nosey saw Paul get out of the car. “He opened the door and then he yanked her out. By her feet.”
Nosey wanted to take his lover to the hospital, but the other two men were afraid, “So we didn’t,” Christian said later.
Paul wanted the other two to help him get the body out of the car. “He wanted us to help him get her out of the car,” Christian remembered. But the other two men refused to help him. “He just dragged her out.” It was not quite sunrise but the sky was starting to lighten. The body was dumped into the rough scrub brush next to a road named Champagne Boulevard, which runs parallel to Interstate 15 in the Lawrence Welk Village area.
“I was just crying hysterically,” Nosey remembered.
Nosey said later that he had noticed Paul was not in a good mood that night. “Paul was a little weirded out.” But Nosey was a faithful friend to Paul: “He’s a good person. You know, he had just been going through a lot at the time.”
Nosey admitted they used meth before the long car trip. “We all did.”
He said there was never any fighting in the car. “It was all cool, you know.”
Christian turned the car around and the three men, stunned at the turn of events, drove the whole way back to Las Vegas in Christian’s bullet-holed Chrysler.
When the body was found the next afternoon, about 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 12, cops noticed her stockinged feet were perfectly clean. It was raining steadily, and there was no blood visible, and there were no obvious wounds. An autopsy the following day found wounds from three gunshots. One bullet went straight through Antonia’s heart and would have been immediately fatal. Two bullets passed all the way through her body, and the doctor found one more bullet still lodged in her ribcage. The toxicology report indicated methamphetamine and marijuana in her system.
Weeks later, Nosey was phoning around, looking for a defense attorney just in case. He found that every lawyer he talked to wanted about $5000. That was discouraging. Nosey messaged to a friend on Facebook. He asked her if she knew of a good “homicide attorney.” Soon cops showed up at his house and wanted to talk with him.
Eventually officers searched Christian’s home. They found the same kind of ammunition that was used to kill Antonia. When cops looked at his Chrysler, they found bullet holes and two slugs in the backseat.
Paul Castro pleaded not guilty to murder. His public defender appears to be setting up a defense that it was someone else in the car who fired the shots that killed Antonia. Castro is being held by the San Diego County Sheriff in lieu of $3 million bail. He is next due in court on October 24, 2017, to set a date for trial.