18-year-old arrested for killing a taxi driver in Merced

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Joseph Castrillo of Merced is accused of killing 59-year-old Dean Baker on January 5th. Authorities found Baker dead inside his taxi cab. (KFSN)

Family members finally get the phone call they have been waiting for. An arrest was made in the murder of their father who was killed while working overnight as a taxi cab driver in Merced.
Detectives said 18-year-old Joseph Castrillo was taken into custody in south Merced Wednesday night. Officers believe he was trying to rob 59-year-old Dean Barker, at the time of the deadly shooting.

For nearly 10 days, Merced police interviewed witnesses and pieced together what happened the night officers say Joseph Castrillo called Merced taxi for a ride.

Capt. Tom Trindad with the Merced Police Department said, "What we do believe happened is that he called for a taxi cab ride from a place where he has relatives. He was then transported to a location near where he lived and that was some of the evidence we used to connect him to the crime."

Barker was shot in his cab in the back of the head near an apartment complex on Mimi Lane. He died a short time later. Police say Castrillo lives in the area and made no attempt to hide after the murder that police believe was motivated by money. The victim's son says the crime wasn't worth it for the young suspect.

Michael Barker said, "I told my brothers, I said, the gun he used on my father, he could have sold it and made more money doing that then what my dad had on him. And he wasted his life for about a hundred bucks."

Family members say the suspect didn't end up taking the cash after the murder, but police have not confirmed that detail. Officers will also not reveal whether Castrillo had any accomplice or whether any other arrests will be made. So far, the gun used in the murder has not been found.

Jennifer Trinidade worked with Barker and also drives cabs everyday. She says the shocking crime has prompted her to take extra safety measures.

Trinidade explained, "Just trying to be more vigilant, especially at night. And we always tell each other where we're going, where we're dropping off, picking up, things like that."

After the suspect was arrested Wednesday, police tried to interview Castrillo but he refused to discuss the crime. The victim's family plans to follow him through the court process to learn why he targeted Barker and whether it was a random murder.

Michael Barker said, "If he's going to give an explanation, for whatever reason, I would like to know it and I would like to know why this happened, what was on his thoughts."



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merced countyarrestcrimetrackermurdershootinggangnortenos gangMerced
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