A friend and coworker of the man who was stabbed to death in Lower Downtown Denver early Monday morning says the story the admitted killer told police is simply not true.
Despite a statement given to police by 53-year-old Raoul Lanius that the stabbing stemmed from an argument about who was going to sleeping on a porch that night, Austin Hornsby says his friend Marlon Casanova was not homeless and was actually walking back to his apartment before he was killed.
He says the 35-year-old worked as a sous chef at two upscale Denver restaurants: the Truffle Table and Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar.
“He really was a respectable young man – one of the hardest working young men I’ve seen,” Hornsby said. “He touched many people’s lives in Denver.”
Casanova's mother, Glorida spoke to 9NEWS as she drove with her family from Texas to Denver.
"He had two jobs, so he wasn't homeless and he has a roommate," Gloria says. "I don't know why he has to prove himself. We want to find out why he was killed. We know who he is. We don't know why he was killed."
According to a police report released by Denver Police on Tuesday, Lanius claims he stabbed Casanova with a knife he found in a sewing kit on an RTD Mall Ride bus.
He told police that he and a female companion were going to sleep on the porch of a bike shop at 15th and Wynkoop Streets when he alleges Casanova approached him and said they were in his spot.
Lanius admitted to police he used a racial slur toward Casanova, and that when the younger man approached him, he stabbed him 10 times, according to the probable cause statement.
An autopsy revealed that Casanova had 14 stab wounds between the face and the torso, and that his heart and lung had been penetrated. Lanius claimed it was self-defense.
Lanius later went up to a couple walking nearby and told them someone had been stabbed and that they should call 911. They told police his blue shirt was covered in blood.
On Wednesday afternoon, Denver Police said the information in the probable cause statement is all that is available for public release at this time. A spokesperson for the department could not confirm whether or not investigators knew if Casanova was homeless or had received information that disputed Lanius’ account of what led up to the stabbing.
Lanius faces charges for second-degree murder, according to the probable cause statement.
Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar closed on Tuesday in wake of Casanova’s death, and Hornsby says they’ve raised $1,000 for his family, which is reeling from the loss.
Casanova lived in the Lower Highlands, according to Hornsby and was originally from Houston, Texas. He had moved to Denver from New Zealand.
“Awesome, hard-working, kind, genuine, loving, funny, calm, never upset, loved music, extremely talented individual,” Hornsby wrote in an email.