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Las Vegas man accused of dumping woman’s body in Escondido faces judge

VISTA, Calif. — A Las Vegas gang member accused of killing a homeless woman and dumping her body in an unincorporated area of Escondido near the Lawrence Welk Resort Village pleaded not guilty Monday to murder and assault with a deadly weapon charges.

Paul Castro, 27, was ordered held on $3 million bail.

Castro, a documented gang member, was arrested Feb. 22 in Las Vegas in connection with the death of 23-year-old Antonia Herrera. He was extradited to San Diego to face charges.

A resident taking a walk discovered Herrera’s body on an embankment in the 27600 block of Champagne Boulevard on Jan. 12.

Detectives believe she was killed elsewhere, then dumped on the sloping roadside just west of the Champagne Village senior housing development, according to sheriff’s homicide Lt. Kenn Nelson.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe alleged that Castro killed the victim because he’s schizophrenic and bipolar and was high on methamphetamine. Castro had delusions that he was being kidnapped, the prosecutor alleged.

Castro faces 69 years to life in prison if convicted.

He is due back in court March 27 for a readiness conference and April 3 for a preliminary hearing.