LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge agreed Thursday to reduce bail to $500,000 for a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy charged with murder and other counts stemming from a high-speed, off-duty crash in South Gate that left a 12-year- old boy dead in 2021.
Superior Court Judge Kerry L. White -- who noted that the prosecution had agreed with the proposal to reduce Ricardo Castro's bail of just over $2 million -- ordered the 28-year-old defendant to submit to GPS monitoring and house arrest and told him that there can be "no driving whatsoever."
One of Castro's attorneys, Robert Sheahen, said outside court he expects his client to be able to post the lower bond amount.
Castro has remained behind bars since his Feb. 14 arrest by South Gate police.
He was charged last month with one count each of murder, vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving causing great bodily injury in connection with the Nov. 3, 2021, crash that left Isaiah Suarez Rodriguez dead and injured the boy's older sister, Castro and his passenger.
Castro pleaded not guilty at a Feb. 22 court appearance.
At a Feb. 15 news conference announcing the charges against Castro, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said an investigation showed that the off-duty deputy may have been traveling at speeds nearing 95 mph in a 25 mph school zone as he approached the busy intersection of Firestone Boulevard and San Juan Avenue.
The county's top prosecutor noted that Castro received rigorous training through his work as a sheriff's deputy and had significant personal and professional knowledge about the dangers of driving at an excessive speed.
"Mr. Castro's recklessness ended the life of a boy with an entire future ahead of him and destroyed a family," Gascón said. "This tragedy was preventable and should have never happened."
Castro's driving history revealed that he has been involved in "multiple collisions" and received several traffic tickets, including for speeding, the district attorney said.
"Mr. Castro was also involved as a passenger in a fatal traffic collision just three months prior to this fatal collision," Gascón said.
South Gate Police Chief Darren Arakawa said at the news conference that the boy was an "innocent child" who "didn't stand a chance in that crash."
The police chief said the off-duty deputy was driving his Ford pick-up truck at an "unsafe speed far beyond the speed limit" when he broadsided the side of the Mercedes-Benz in which the boy was riding as his sister was negotiating a left turn.
"Despite the valiant efforts of L.A. County firefighters and medical staff at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Isaiah did not survive this horrific event," the police chief said.
"I want to emphasize that this was a preventable incident that was clearly in the hands of Mr. Castro, and that cannot be understated. At the time of the collision, the street was heavily populated with motorists and pedestrians and occurred during a time period while school children were still present."
In an emotional statement last month, the boy's mother said, "First of all, I want to say that I love my son. I love you, Isaiah, and I miss you every single day."
She said the boy -- who had decided three days earlier to be baptized - - was out that afternoon to get a ruler for a classmate whose ruler had been taken away while being bullied.
The victim's mother, Betsabe Suarez, said that her family is "completely broken" by his loss, and said she was thankful that the crash was not brushed "under the rug."
Castro could face a potential 25-year-to-life prison term if convicted as charged, the district attorney said.
He was the second Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy to be charged with murder and reckless driving in just under two years in connection with a deadly high-speed crash while off-duty.
Daniel Manuel Auner, now 25, was charged in May 2021 with a crash in Torrance that killed one of his passengers, 23-year-old Ashley Wells, and seriously injured two other people in his Dodge Charger. He is awaiting trial.