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2 acquitted of torture in Kern County kidnapping case

2 acquitted of torture in Kern County kidnapping case
The Kern County Sheriff's Office searches a home in central Bakersfield on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, for evidence in the abduction and torture of a McFarland man.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Kern County jury acquitted two men Thursday on felony counts of torture.

Michael Wayne Culp and Benny Hunter were accused in an April 2012 kidnapping episode. Ofelio Victor Garcia Castrejon was reportedly taken from his McFarland home, beaten and given a phone by his abductors to call his family and tell them he would be killed if the ransom wasn't paid.

Culp was also acquitted of first-degree robbery, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on a charge of kidnapping and a mistrial was declared.

Both men will return to court next week to set a date for retrial on the charges for which the jury couldn't decide.

Of the other defendants in this case:

  • Lewistine Whitfield pleaded no contest in August 2012 to a assault with a deadly weapon charge and was sentenced to 248 days in jail
  • Genoveva Ronquillo pleaded no contest last month to second-degree robbery and will be sentenced next week
  • Jasper Lee Bagsby was found guilty in September 2012 of kidnapping and torture and was sentenced to 27 years in prison
  • Vincent Cabre Sterling goes to trial in September on two counts of kidnapping for ransom and one count of torture