More than 10 years after the crime and 20 months since the defendants were re-arrested and re-charged, Judge Bernard Schwartz of the Riverside County Superior Court has set March 27 as a tentative start of the murder trial for Robert Lars Pape, 29, and Cristin Conrad Smith, 29.
In June 2016, they were charged for the 2006 murders of Jon Hayward, Vicki Friedli and Vicki’s daughter Becky.
Both Pape and Smith had originally been arrested and charged for the murders in March 2014, but charges were dropped later that year.
When Michael Hestrin took office as Riverside County district attorney in January 2015, he vowed to have the case reviewed again, which led to their re-arrest.
Since June 2016, the court has reviewed and decided various legal motions and maneuvers from the defense attorneys. Those actions have ended.
At the Friday, Feb. 23, hearing, Schwartz announced that any new motions must be filed by March 9. Beginning March 27, and for the next two days, he will hear these new motions.
Smith’s attorney already has filed a paper with pre-trial motions and objections.
In early April, jury selection will begin. Schwartz ruled that Pape and Smith will have separate juries. DA’s Office Public Information Officer John Hall said one trial with two juries is not uncommon in Riverside County.
In August 2017, Hestrin filed a notice that he would not seek the death penalty if defendant Pape were found guilty. Smith was a minor at the time of the crimes and the death penalty cannot be applied to him.
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 Haywood 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 June 2016, Hestrin announced that both Pape and Smith had been arrested again and charged with three counts of murder, with a special circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders. This action came after an extensive review of the case and new evidence, including testimony from a confidential informant.
Some of the new evidence included retesting of DNA found at the scene, which matches Smith’s, and that better forensic analysis of cell tower data places Smith and Pape closer to Pinyon Pines about the time when the murders were committed.