Maria Garzon was sentenced last week to serve two years in state prison for tampering with the legal process — specifically, for dissuading and influencing witnesses, and trying to occlude her involvement with and assistance of Steven Cisneros. Cisneros was convicted of murdering his roommate Lawrence Kaiser on December 11, 2008. After the murder, he went straight to Garzon’s house. Garzon, Cisneros’ ex-lover, took him to the bank and helped him flee to Camarillo, where he was apprehended two days later.
For aiding Cisneros, Garzon was charged with being an accessory to murder. However, these charges were dropped because they are not as serious as those of dissuasion. Because the prison system is vastly overcrowded and financially floundering, the California legislature has taken measures to cut down prison stays by expanding on the credit system which accounts for time spent in jail during sentencing and deliberation. In Garzon’s case, there was confusion surrounding how much time she would be credited for. Because her crime is considered a serious felony, her sentencing was unaffected by the changes. Garzon nearly withdrew her plea, being under the impression that she would be able to shave off a few more months of her sentence for those she spent in jail waiting to be sentenced, but decided against doing so.
This is not the first time that Garzon has been found guilty of inappropriately influencing a witness. Twice before she has been found to have overstepped these legal bounds. Since this was her third offense for the same crime, the two prior’s being misdemeanors, the judge was perhaps more strict than he might otherwise have been.
“We’re pleased that both the Garzon and Cisneros cases have been resolved,” said Mary Barron, the prosecuting attorney. “The outcome [for Garzon] is fair—she will know in the future that dissuasion is not tolerated.”