After nearly four days of preliminary hearings, Judge Bernard Schwartz of the Riverside County Superior Court, ruled that he found sufficient evidence to try Robert Lars Pape, 29, and Cristin Conrad Smith, 29, for the 2006 murders of Jon Hayward, Vicki Friedli and Vicki’s daughter Becky.
An information arraignment has been scheduled for both defendants for Nov. 15, A trial could begin sometime within four months to a year, according to John Hall, the district attorney’s public information officer.
During the preliminary hearing that began Oct. 24 and convened over four days until Monday, Oct. 31, Schwartz heard many witnesses and the DA’s office offered many pieces of evidence, several never before presented in court. The DA’s office only presented a portion of the evidence in this case at the preliminary hearing, according to a press release late Monday.
The murders occurred on Sept. 17, 2006, in Pinyon Pines. Becky’s body was found burning in a wheelbarrow outside the house. The other bodies were found inside the burning home. An affidavit from the DA’s office stated that Hayward died from a 12-gauge shotgun wound to the chest. Vicki’s death was caused from a wound to the head, possibly from a Glock handgun. Pape was Becky’s former boyfriend.
In March 2014, both Pape and Smith were arrested and charged with the murders. Family members of the victims were elated that action had finally occurred after more than seven years. Seven months later in September 2014, the DA’s office dismissed the charges and both men were released.
Then, in June 2016, the DA announced that both had been arrested again and charged with murders. Three counts of murder, with a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, were filed. This action came after an extensive review of the case and new evidence, including testimony from a confidential informant.
After the arrests, District Attorney Michael Hestrin stated, “The lengthy investigation led to the finding of new evidence, some of which was not known at the time of the first investigation, as well as evidence that has now been processed using technological advances unavailable previously.”
Some of the new evidence included retesting of DNA found at the scene, which matches Smith’s, and better forensic analysis of cell-tower data places Smith and Pape closer to Pinyon Pines about when the murders where committed.
Confidential informant Jeremy Witt, who worked with Smith at Soak City Wave Pool in 2007, testified last week. He said Smith admitted to being involved in an arson when he said, “Something went wrong and we torched the whole f…ing place ... ”
Schwartz also denied Smith’s motion to dismiss the charges against him because they have already been dismissed twice.