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East Elmhurst man gets two life sentences for beating ‘witches’ to death with hammer: DA

An East Elmhurst man was sentenced to two life sentences for killing Lina Casteneda, 25, and her mother, Estrella Casteneda, 56.
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By Mark Hallum

An East Elmhurst man was sentenced last week to two life sentences for beating his girlfriend and her daughter to death with a hammer under the impression they were witches making life hard for him with supernatural abilities, the Queens district attorney said. The brutal 2014 murders spared only a 7-year-old, who was in the home at the time.

Carlos Alberto Amarillo, 48, was convicted a month ago after a two-week jury trial of the crime which he reported himself. He was found guilty of two counts of first-degree-murder and one count each of criminal possession of a weapon, as well as endangering the welfare of a child before Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise. The judge sentenced Amarillo July 6.

“The defendant will rightfully spend the rest of his natural life behind bars for fatally beating to death his girlfriend and her daughter – who was the mother of a young child who also happened to be in the residence that night but fortunately was not harmed,” Brown said. “Acting in a violent rage, the defendant fatally beat to death his girlfriend and her daughter – who was the mother of a young child who also happened to be in the residence that night.

“Thankfully, the little girl, just 7 years old at the time, was not harmed during these deadly attacks. She will, however, be forever impacted by the absence of both her mother and grandmother in her life. At trial, the jury weighed all the evidence and found the defendant guilty of both homicides. The defendant now faces the prospect of spending the rest of his days locked behind bars.”

Police responded to Amarillo’s residence at 12:10 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2014. Inside the residence, the DA described a gory scene in which the NYPD found Estrella Castaneda, 56, lying face up in bed. Over her face was a pillow with blood seeping through the linen and more blood spattered on the wall behind her, the DA said. Cops found the rubber grip of a hammer beside her on the bed.

Lina Castaneda, 25, was found on the floor of the rear bedroom. She was lying face-down with the hammer beside her on the floor.

Police found Castaneda’s daughter unharmed in her mother’s bedroom, according to the DA.

Amarillo himself called the police after the killings took place, according to the DA, telling dispatch “two females are dead, they were assassinated, hurry they are dead. I killed them because they are witches, I want the police to kill me. I killed them with a hammer.”

Amarillo was found with a Bible in his hands walking through the door of the home as police approached. Further statements by Amarillo to police showed he believed he had become sick because they were “witches and were performing voodoo and casting spells,” the DA said.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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