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Man wanted for 12 years in girlfriend’s death pleads guilty to murder

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Jose Cecilio Castillo, 43.

FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — A Winston-Salem man who was on the run for 12 years for killing his girlfriend pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in her death.

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that Jose Cecilio Castillo, 43, was arrested last year in Northern Virginia in connection with the shooting death of Edelmira Serrano, 34, in February 2000.

Serrano, a native of El Salvador, was shot once in the head in front of her friends in the parking lot outside of her apartment complex.

Serrano, who had four daughters, had come to Winston-Salem to live with her sister, Margarita Serrano, who was expecting a child, and had planned to return to El Salvador.

Castillo was initially indicted on first-degree murder in Serrano’s death, but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday. Judge William Z. Wood of Forsyth Superior Court sentenced Castillo to 18 years and nine months to 23 years and three months in prison.

Paul James, Castillo’s attorney, said that Castillo had been drinking the night before the shooting and that morning.

He said if the case had gone to trial, he would have argued that Castillo never planned to kill Serrano and that it could have been accidental, considering how much alcohol Castillo had consumed.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal.