Man found guilty of murdering Merced taxi cab driver

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Joseph Castrillo was found guilty of first degree murder for killing Merced taxi driver Dean Barker in 2015. (KFSN)

It only took an hour for the jury to come to a verdict and end one family's two-year wait for justice. Joseph Castrillo was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Merced taxi driver Dean Barker in 2015.

Castrillo was charged with the crime shortly after him and another man, Dante Woods, called Barker's cab company for a ride. Attorneys said Castrillo then shot Barker in the head three times.

Woods testified he saw Castrillo pull out the gun and shoot Barker. Castrillo's former stepmom also took the stand claiming Castrillo came to her apartment after the shooting and was bragging about the murder.

Ultimately, attorneys said the most crucial part of the trial was proving the shooting was intentional.

Prosecuting Attorney Larry Morse said, "Investigator Florez testified and mentioned trigger pull and how long it took to fire a gun three times was a very important testimony."

The defense said this is not over and they plan to file an appeal after sentencing.

"He still expresses his innocence in this, but we respect the jury and go from here," said Defense Attorney Michael Coughlin.

Some members of Castrillo's family claim his former step mom was lying when she testified and said the jury did not take long enough to decide on the verdict.

Castrillo's grandmother Vicky Zepeda said, "Joseph is not a cold blooded murder-- far from it, they have the wrong person."

The Barker family was emotional after the hearing and said they are glad this part of their tragedy is over.

"All you have is family-- that's the only thing you take with you. We're all going to get better after this, we're just glad this part's over," said Dean Barker's son Michael Barker.

Castrillo is due back in court on November 1st for sentencing-- on that day; the Barker family will also be here to leave him with some final words.

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mercedmerced countyshootingmurdercourt caseMerced
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