Howard Forrest Lowe after his March arrest in Rancho Penasquitos.
Howard Forrest Lowe after his March arrest in Rancho Penasquitos. Photo via OnScene TV

A man accused of fatally stabbing a 72-year-old former neighbor in Rancho Penasquitos who had helped the defendant find work and other things, including giving him a car to drive, was ordered Thursday to stand trial on a murder charge.

Howard Forrest Lowe, 54, is charged in the March 29 killing of Richard Munsinger.

Munsinger’s wife, Joann, testified during a morning preliminary hearing that Lowe had lived in a house across the street in the 9500 block of High Park Lane for more than five years, but moved out three to four weeks before a fire in the residence.

The witness said she and her husband gave the defendant odd jobs, bought food for his dog, and considered him part of the family.

At one point, Richard Munsinger gave Lowe a Volvo to drive to help him find work, but the defendant crashed it and when it couldn’t pass a smog test, the victim took it back, Deputy District Attorney Jihan Maloney said.

Thomas Sandoval, who was working for a construction company cleaning out Lowe’s former home the day of the killing, testified that he heard a co- worker screaming about 2 p.m. and ran across the street, where he saw Lowe sitting on top of the victim in the garage and swinging his arm toward Munsinger in a stabbing motion.

Sandoval said he told the defendant to stop, but got no response.

The witness said he raised his voice and said, “Stop what you are doing!”

Lowe responded, “He (the victim) raped me,” before continuing the attack, Sandoval testified.

The witness said Lowe walked back to his former residence, grabbed a bottle of water and washed blood off his forearms. It was at that point that Sandoval said he saw Lowe with a knife.

As Sandoval and his co-workers prepared to drive away, Lowe looked into their work truck and repeated, “He (the victim) raped me,” the witness testified.

Medics took Munsinger to a hospital where he died. He had been stabbed 33 times, the prosecutor said.

Lowe had a knife on him when he was arrested about 400 yards away a short time after the attack, Maloney said.

Despite defense claims that Lowe was “out of it” when he allegedly attacked Munsinger, Judge Laura Birkmeyer said the stabbing was “deliberate” and that the defendant was responsive during the attack and afterward when he cleaned blood off his body.

Lowe will be back in court Oct. 24. He faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted.

— City News Service