Murder charges in question for 2 linked to deadly crime spree

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A pair of reputed gangsters were arraigned Friday on multiple charges stemming from a midweek crime spree.

Eric Castilleja, 23, and Luis Gonzalez, 18, are suspected of participating in a string of armed robberies Wednesday morning. Two of the robberies turned deadly.

Castilleja and Gonzalez entered not-guilty pleas in Kern County court to charges of attempted murder, second-degree robbery and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

They haven't been charged with murder, even though two apparent robbery victims were shot to death. A prosecutors said Friday that a murder investigation is still underway but wouldn't comment on whether Castilleja and Gonzalez are suspected of murder or if other suspects remain at large.

Police said they believe the victims were randomly chosen. Five suspected street robberies occurred starting around 1 a.m. that morning, all occuring moments apart in east and northeast Bakersfield.

Raul Alonso Morales, 36, was shot and killed around 1 a.m. on the 1000 block of Inyo Street. Torik Ezell James, 33, was shot and killed around 2:45 a.m. on the 1500 block of Pacific Street.

Castilleja and Gonzalez return to court later this month.