Pinyon murder suspects’ trials separate or combined?

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A hearing last Friday to combine the trial of Robert Pape and Cristin Smith for a triple homicide in Pinyon in 2006 was rescheduled for Friday, Aug. 22.

According to other media accounts, at the request of Smith’s attorney, John Patrick Dolan, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Charles Stafford ordered medical tests for Smith because of a possible lump on his chest.

In July, the prosecution submitted a request to consolidate the trials, but Pape’s defense objected. A hearing on the motion is later this month.

The District Attorney’s office recommended that trials of Pape and Smith be joined based on California Penal Code 1098. “The present case grows out of the same event, occurring on the same date, involving similar behavior, and the elements of the three charges each defendant faces are the same … Given the similarities between the cases of the two defendants, a joint trial is consistent with the legislative intent behind Cal. Penal Code sec. 1098,” according to the brief submitted to the judge.

Pape’s attorney, Richard Blumenfeld, objected to the joining of the two trials for several reasons, which he argued would be prejudicial to his client. For example, Smith made a statement to Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigators that he might not want admitted to his trial. Further, Blumenfeld feels “the case against Mr. Smith is forensically much stronger (there is an utter absence of forensic evidence implicating Mr. Pape) …”

On the night of Sept. 17, 2006, Becky Friedli, 18, her mother, Vicki Friedli, 53, and Vicki’s boyfriend, Jon Hayward, 55, were found dead on their Pinyon property. Becky’s body was found burning in a wheelbarrow outside the house. The other bodies were found inside the burning home.

On March 11 this year, both Pape, 26, and Smith, 25, were arrested and charged for these murders. They were high school friends.

 

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