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Grover Beach man confessed to roommate's 2016 murder, officer says

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A Grover Beach man accused of murdering his roommate and setting the body on fire confessed to the crime moments before his arrest, according to the testimony of a San Luis Obispo police officer.

CONFESSION A SLO County judge is mulling whether jurors will hear testimony that Manuel Jesus Perez allegedly told a SLO police officer that he murdered his roommate in their Grover Beach apartment on July 11, 2016. - FILE PHOTO BY HENRY BRUINGTON
  • File Photo By Henry Bruington
  • CONFESSION A SLO County judge is mulling whether jurors will hear testimony that Manuel Jesus Perez allegedly told a SLO police officer that he murdered his roommate in their Grover Beach apartment on July 11, 2016.

During a pre-trial hearing on Jan. 16, SLO Police Department officer Quenten Rouse recounted his interaction with 43-year-old Manuel Jesus Perez just hours after the body of Perez's roommate, Joseph Charles Kienly IV, was found in the Grover Beach apartment they shared on July 11, 2016.

Rouse said he encountered Perez after receiving a report of man in the yard of Air Vol Block, a landscaping businesses in SLO, making statements about "hiding from the police." At the time, Rouse said he did not know that Perez was a person of interest in Kienly's death. Rouse said that Perez told him that he'd had an altercation with his roommate and had killed him.

"[Perez] said that he'd been up for an extended period of time, and that his roommate was antagonizing him by drilling holes in the wall," Rouse said. "[Perez said] 'I couldn't take it anymore, so I killed him and set him on fire.'"

Earlier that morning, Grover Beach police had discovered Kienly's badly burned body in an apartment in the 100 block of North 13th Street. Rouse testified that Perez was "very forthcoming" with the details of the crime.

"I was a little shocked," Rouse said.

Perez's defense attorney is seeking to get Rouse's account of the confession excluded from the trial, citing concerns that Perez was not read his Miranda rights before speaking with the officer. Prosecutors argued that Perez was not under arrest during his initial interaction with Rouse.

SLO County Superior Court Judge Craig Van Rooyen did not make a ruling on admitting Rouse's testimony at the Jan. 16 hearing. Jury selection for Perez's trial is expected to begin Friday, with opening statements tentatively set for early the following week.

In October 2017, Perez pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges against him. Δ


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