Lawrence Kaiser had only been at the Lighthouse sober living home for about a week when he was stabbed to death in the dorm room he shared with two others in December 2008.
The man accused of stabbing Kaiser, Steven Cisneros, will now stand trial, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona determined after hearing testimony Friday at a preliminary hearing.
No witnesses who testified in the hearing actually saw the stabbing take place, but many were nearby when it occurred. Donald Chilton, the manager of the home at the time, testified that prior to the incident, he was smoking a cigarette with Cisneros, whose demeanor seemed calm. After Cisneros finished a cigarette, he went inside and Chilton heard a commotion - fighting, moaning, and someone yelling for help.
Chilton ran inside and saw Cisneros with his hands up, as if he was shocked about what he had done. Chilton told him to “get the hell out” so he wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Chilton then saw Kaiser in a fetal position on his right side, lying in a puddle of blood with a knife in the lower back portion of his neck. (That knife was later found to be from the home’s kitchen.) Chilton saw Cisneros flee the scene through the back door and assumes that he peddled away down the back alley on his bicycle.
Similar testimony came from others who lived at the sober home, some awakened by yelling or others being told to call the ambulance. Kaiser died before arriving at the hospital.
Cisneros fled the home at 231 West Haley Street, allegedly making his way on his bicycle over to a friend’s home on East Gutierrez Street. From there, according to GPS “pings” of his cell phone, police were able to track Cisneros to Ventura County, in Oxnard and Camarillo. He was captured in a park on December 12, the day after Kaiser died.
Cisneros is facing a charge of murder with a special circumstance of using a deadly weapon. He is currently in Santa Barbara County Jail on no bail. He will return to court May 21.