WEST PALM BEACH ― A judge has sentenced a 19-year-old man to 45 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the August 2021 shooting death of a man near Lake Worth Beach.
At the time of his arrest, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office investigators alleged that Carlos Castaneda shot and killed 23-year-old Luis Miguel Mejia Granados the night of Aug. 20, 2021, in suburban Lake Worth Beach, then fled to Martin County with Granados’ body in the back of his pickup.
Castaneda, who was 17 at the time, was arrested at Interstate 95 and Martin Highway near Palm City after deputies stopped his vehicle. Granados’ body was found in the bed of the of truck.
Castaneda entered the plea during a hearing Dec. 21 at the Palm Beach County Courthouse before Circuit Judge Jeffrey Gillen. The judge also imposed a five-year prison sentence against Castaneda in a separate aggravated-assault-with-a-firearm case that occurred a few hours before the fatal shooting, with the term to be served concurrently with the murder sentence.
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Two witnesses in Palm Beach County reported hearing gunshots earlier that night, then seeing a man, later identified as Castaneda, attempt to drag another man into a canal.
When the witnesses admonished Castaneda, he shouted back, “If he can kill my brother why can’t I kill him?”
Castaneda then removed the victim’s shoes and cellphone, and went through his pockets before loading the body into the truck, investigators said. He and a female passenger then sped away. After being detained in Martin County, the female passenger told investigators Castaneda killed Granados because he believed the man was responsible for killing his brother.
She later changed her story and said Castaneda was angry because Granados had attempted to pursue a romantic relationship with her, deputies said. When Granados arrived at the woman’s home, Castaneda reportedly met him at the door and shot him six to seven times.
Earlier that evening, Castaneda was in Lake Worth Beach, where he fired a shot at a 15-year-old boy, according to PBSO. The victim told investigators he was sitting outside with his girlfriend when Castaneda approached on a bicycle and pointed a gun at him.
The 15-year-old said he heard a shot as he fled into his residence. The teen said he and Castaneda previously were friends, but the friendship ended when Castaneda learned the teen had been involved in a relationship with his girlfriend.
Julius Whigham II is a criminal justice and public safety reporter for The Palm Beach Post. You can reach him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @JuliusWhigham. Help support our work: Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Lake Worth Beach-area man sentenced to 45 years in 2021 homicide