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Couple gets lengthy prison sentences for death of toddler

ESCONDIDO — Brutally tortured in the months leading up to his death, Cesar Razo can finally rest in peace, his family said Sept. 10 after attending the sentencings of the toddler’s mother and her boyfriend.
“Now that it’s over, I feel justice is made and Cesar will be able to rest,” Matilde Razo said through the aid of a family member who translated her statements.
Razo’s daughter, Maria Razo, was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in prison for the voluntary manslaughter of her 2-year-old son, Cesar Razo. Following, Maria Razo’s sentencing, Superior Court Judge Joan Weber sentenced Jose Maurice Castenada to life in prison without parole for the torture and murder of the young boy.
While she was pleased with Castenada’s sentence, Matilde Razo said she had hoped the 25-year-old man would have been sentenced to death.
The jury who convicted Castenada of murder with the special circumstance of torture deadlocked in the death penalty phase of the case. Because prosecutors chose not to retry that portion of the trial, Castenada received life in prison without parole.
Additionally, Matilde Razo said she believed her daughter, Maria Razo, was also a victim in the case.
Maria Razo pleaded guilty in 2007 to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of felony child abuse in connection with Cesar Razo and his older sister, Dulce Razo, who is now 9.
An autopsy revealed Cesar Razo died from a fatal blow to the back of his skull and his abdomen. Maria Razo and Castenada brought the unconscious boy to Palomar Medical Center on June 25, 2005. Authorities were called after doctors discovered more than 200 bruises on the toddler’s body, including his genitals.
The couple had lived together in a apartment off of Bear Valley Parkway in Escondido.
At Castenada’s sentencing, Weber had video stills, which showed a bruised Cesar Razo in the months before his murder, placed in the courtroom. She said she asked the prosecution to display the images so that Castenada would always “remember that face.”
With Cesar Razo’s big brown eyes staring at Castenada from the video stills that he took more than four years ago, the young Guatemalan man sat with his head down listening to the court interpreter’s translation of the proceedings, which included a statement by Marivy Velazquez, Maria Razo’s younger sister and the guardian of her daughter, Dulce.
“I hope this man won’t have any peace for the rest of his life,” Velazquez said through a court translator.
And just as his fate was about to be sealed, Castenada, shackled and dressed in his blue county jail jumpsuit, spoke out to the judge. Upset over the barrage of comments made by the Razo family and the prosecution, Castenada, in English, asked the judge to review a psychiatric evaluation that his attorney never introduced into evidence during the trial for strategic purposes.
“I feel bad, too, but this is my life,” Castenada said.
After a brief recess, Weber agreed to place the evaluation in the court file. Additionally, the physician who wrote the report spoke briefly saying he had ruled out psychosis, and didn’t observe any psychopathic or sociopath disorders within Castenada.
Prosecutors maintained they had another medical expert whose diagnoses of Castenada was the complete opposite and would have presented that evidence at the trial if the aforementioned psychiatric evaluation would have been used by the defense.
Moments later, Weber addressed Castenada saying she agreed “100 percent” with the jury’s verdict.
“It’s absolutely incomprehensible to think about that boy’s last couple of months on earth,” Weber said. “He was dead a week before you killed him.”