Preliminary hearing postponed to late June for Ridgecrest man charged with punching and killing man outside bar

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A preliminary hearing scheduled Tuesday for a Ridgecrest man charged with murder after a man he punched outside a bar died has been pushed back to late June.

The hearing, where a judge will determine if there’s enough evidence to hold Richard Castleberry for trial on first-degree murder and assault charges, is now set for June 25.

Although it’s not clear if the postponement is due to COVID-19, many court cases are being set back further than usual as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. A standing order issued by Kern County Superior Court Presiding Judge Judith K. Dulcich has placed restrictions on who can enter courthouses to keep them as sparsely populated as possible.

Castleberry, 32, was escorted out of Triple T’s Tavern at 117 E. Ridgecrest Blvd. early May 26 shortly before closing, bar employees told police. A security guard said another guard had pointed out Castleberry and called him a “scrapper” who likes to fight.

Later, a bar employee said, she and another employee went outside around 1:50 a.m. and saw Castleberry urinating outside the building, according to court documents. They told him he had to leave, and he became confrontational.

Shortly afterward, Castleberry hit Luis Fernando Vargas Quintero, who was standing near a bar employee’s car, the employee told police. She said no words were exchanged between Castleberry and Quintero, and Quintero was “just standing there.”

Quintero, 29, fell and hit the back of his head on the car. He was taken to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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