A life sentence has been handed down in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to a Grover Beach man convicted last month of stabbing his longtime roommate to death and setting the home they shared on fire in 2016.
Manuel Jesus Perez, 43, was convicted by a jury in February of murder and arson in the killing of Joseph Charles Kienly IV in July 2016. Following statements read in court by members of Kienly's family on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen sentenced Perez to 85 years to life in prison.
Grover Beach police responded to the house shared by Kienly and Perez in the 100 block of North 13th Street for a reported fire and found Kienly’s charred body inside the kitchen. After fleeing on foot, Perez was found by police in San Luis Obispo that same day and allegedly confessed to the killing, according to testimony.
During the week-long trial, Deputy District Attorney Michael Frye told jurors that Frye said Perez and Kienly’s relationship soured as Perez grew paranoid and came to believe that Kienly was antagonizing him. Perez planned the killing, tying two steak knives together and purchasing lighter fluid at a nearby convenience store.
Defense attorney Steven Rice did not contest the arson charge but said Perez did not mean to kill Kienly, but rather foolishly brought the knife to confront Kienly about their roommate issues.
According to a Probation Department report, Perez admitted to being a habitual methamphetamine user.
As of Monday, Perez remained in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail awaiting transfer to the California Department of Corrections for placement.