By Joshua Cenzano
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Taylor Lee Stewart appeared at his preliminary hearing in Santa Barbara County Superior Court Monday, charged with allegedly burglarizing a house occupied by at least 13 female students in the surrounding neighborhood of UC Santa Barbara.
Stewart was held to answer on first degree burglary and possession of a controlled substance, both felony charges, as well as two misdemeanor violations. He will be arraigned on the information on March 3.
Stewart allegedly entered their house in the early morning before showering and trying on clothes. He was also found in possession of drug paraphernalia and is believed to have vandalized the nearby Camino Pescadero Park.
He was apprehended by police once the residents ascertained that he was unknown to all of them.
According to the testimony of two Santa Barbara County deputy sheriffs, Deputies Marquez and Martinez, Stewart was wandering the neighborhood of Isla Vista early in the morning on Feb. 29, 2020 when he decided to enter a house on Del Playa Drive.
The house was occupied by at least 13 female UCSB students and, as a result of the high occupancy, the front door was commonly left unlocked or open, according to Deputy Marquez.
He allegedly entered the house at around 6:20 a.m. and proceeded to use the shower, lie down on the couch next to one of the sleeping residents, and go about the different bedrooms searching through closets for clothes, some of which he put on.
The students’ initial response to his presence was relatively mild, since it was not uncommon for the house to have visitors, said the deputy. Only after Stewart began behaving strangely and taking clothes did the residents realize he was a stranger and called the police.
Upon being apprehended by the two deputy sheriffs and the UCPD, Stewart claimed to have been sent by the government to enter the house to spray paint the inside, according to Deputy Marquez’s testimony.
While the initial investigation was taking place, Stewart told law enforcement the location of a black backpack in the nearby Pescadero Park, which contained spray paint, bank cards in his name, methamphetamine, and related drug paraphernalia. He later claimed ownership of these items.
Stewart is also accused of vandalizing with graffiti the park where his backpack was found. Allegedly, he later admitted to the vandalism in a statement to law enforcement, according to Deputy Martinez.
In the same statement, he maintained that he never intended to harm any of the residents, and reaffirmed his assertion that the government sent him to that house.