A 71-year-old Oxnard resident named Armida Castro was randomly attacked in mid-April 2019. She was in downtown Oxnard standing near a corner of A and Sixth streets when a man came up and assaulted her. One week after the elder abuse occurred, Armida Castro died from her injuries.
ATTACKER COMMITS ELDERLY ABUSE IN OXNARD
The attacker who assaulted Castro was a 56-year-old man named Adam Barcenas. The same day he attacked Castro, Barcenas assaulted an 80-year-old man. The attacker was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison. He was charged with elder abuse and resisting arrest. Barcenas was arrested the same day he attacked the two individuals.
According to the VC Star, Barcenas punched both of the victims. He pushed Castro to the ground and proceeded to kick her in the back multiple times. Barcenas was on parole at the time of the assault. He had an extensive history of involving himself in violent situations.
THE VICTIM’S FAMILY REMEMBERS HER WRONGFUL DEATH
Barcenas was released from custody in October 2022 and returned to downtown Oxnard on March 12, 2023. On that day, there were many Oxnard police officers investigating a DUI case. Barcenas saw them and attempted to attack them with a large metal pole. This then caused an officer to shoot and kill Barcenas. Additionally, the event took place within a quarter mile from the location of where Barcenas assaulted Castro in April 2019.
With the news of the police shooting, Castro’s loved ones were once again reminded of Armida’s wrongful death.
Armida Castro’s daughter, Marie Castro Hamilton, said that she felt a “release” after hearing that Barcenas was killed in a fatal police shooting. Hamilton is a 59-year-old woman from Fontana, California.
Marie Hamilton said, “I just realized that now my mom is truly resting in peace.”
Hamilton argued for a harsher sentence for Barcenas 2019. In fact, she believed that six years was not enough and that he would “do it again.” Hamilton was not surprised to see that Barcenas was cursing at the police officers while approaching them with a large pole in 2023.
Hamilton continued, “It now was a different way of mourning, without all that anger at everything we heard and witnessed at the trial.”
WHAT DOES AN ATTORNEY THINK OF THE ELDER ABUSE CASE?
After Barcenas was arrested for elder abuse in 2019, the District Attorney filed charges since the incident did not immediately result in any deaths.
Castro died eight days after she was attacked. This prompted the District attorney to work with other members of his office to determine if Barcenas should be charged with voluntary manslaughter or murder.
The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Officer determined that Castro’s death was considered a homicide. Specifically, her cause of death was a “bilateral pulmonary embolism due to deep-vein thrombosis due to complications of blunt-force trauma.”
Castro was discharged from the hospital two days before her death. Unfortunately, she suffered a fall in her home. She returned to the hospital but tragically passed away the following day.
With her fall, it was difficult to determine which blunt-force trauma caused her blood clot. Castro also had other aspects of her medical history that were worth mentioning. These factors made it difficult to pursue manslaughter or murder charges.
The District Attorney explained, “There were a significant number of intervening factors where we would not be able to prove, beyond what we originally filed, beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury.”
Barcenas changed his plea to no contest so the case never reached the jury phase.
SENTENCING THE ATTACKER
The maximum sentence that Barcenas could have faced was eleven years and four months. The District Attorney argued that Barcenas should be sentenced to eight years in jail. Furthermore, Barcenas was given a sentence of six years in prison by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Patricia Murphy. Although, he was eligible to be released halfway through his sentence because elder abuse is not considered a violent felony like manslaughter or murder.
Barcenas was released from prison in October, 2022. This was five months prior to the police shooting incident on March 12, 2023.
Moreover, the District Attorney stated that “Our legislature has not defined felony elder abuse as a serious or violent felony…That’s something that’s really frustrating.”
Incidents like these should never happen and it is a true tragedy when one does occur. Our hearts go out to Armida Castro and her family.
If you have any questions regarding an elder abuse case, you should contact an elder abuse attorney immediately.