Despite claiming that she was too ill to remain in the courtroom, and threatening to change attorneys, Maria Garzon, former girlfriend of Steven Cisneros the man accused of murdering Lawrence Kaiser last December will stand trial, Superior Court Judge Jean Dandona ruled Monday, July 20. Garzon is accused of dissuading or attempting to dissuade witnesses from testifying, and serving as an accessory to crime after the fact. She reportedly provided Cisneros with both money and transportation after he allegedly stabbed Kaiser through the neck, killing him.
Judge Jean Dandona heard from six prosecution witnesses during the two-day -long preliminary hearing, which began July 16 and continued this week.
Garzon and Cisneros had an “on-again, off-again” relationship which apparently was on-again in December, despite witnesses’ description of Cisneros as abusive. Both lived within the Sober Lighthouse community: Cisneros was a tenant at New House 2, while Garzon was the landlord of another sober house at 1233 E. Gutierrez Street.
Three witnesses whom Garzon is accused of attempting to dissuade testified to Garzon’s affiliation with Cisneros.
Garzon’s house cleaner, Maria Cordova, and tenant Natalie Medina, said they saw Cisneros approach Garzon’s house the day of the murder. Medina reported seeing him walk the alleged getaway bike to her house. Cordova was later described by other witnesses as the unknowing driver who helped transport the couple to Oxnard.
Bank records, police “pings” of the couples’ cell phones, and what lead Detective Jaycee Hunter calls Cisneros’ “monologue confession,” all were offered as proof of her involvement in Cisneros’ escape.
Cisneros was arrested in a park after he made “incidental contact” with a youth group, allegedly telling a young boy that he’d just “stabbed someone” and was ‘thinking about turning himself in.” This reportedly prompted the boy to call police. Once in custody, Cisneros offered a 40-minute monologue of the murder and his escape, according to the prosecution.
Though neither Cordova nor Medina explicitly admitted to having been intimidated by Garzon Medina even calling Garzon “a very beautiful person” initial witness interviews and testimony by another tenant who said she was threatened suggested otherwise.
Kena Foster described how Garzon directed her to tell police that she hadn’t seen Cisneros in three months, and that Garzon was at SBCC during the attack. Foster said Garzon also asked Foster to take Garzon’s son, Juan Vega, to Cordova’s house so he could find out what Cordova told police. Foster said that when she initially said to Garzon, “Stephen just stabbed someone,” Garzon simply replied, “Oh?” when normally she “would press for more information.” The prosecution presented evidence that Garzon cashed the $700 rent check Foster gave her and used it to help Cisneros flee.
According to the testimony presented by the prosecution, Garzon went so far as to recruit another inmate to forge letters from Steven designed to prove her innocence.
Several recordings of jail calls were played in court, apparently of Garzon attempting to dissuade witnesses. After the first recording was played, the allegedly ill Garzon said, “I want to throw up.”
Garzon will be arraigned August 20. Her bail remains $500,000.