Delay in Pinyon Pines triple murder case

Judge approves medical evaluation for defendant

Indio - A judge today approved a request for a medical evaluation for a U.S. Army Ranger -- one of two men accused in a 2006 triple murder in Pinyon Pines.

Cristin Conrad Smith was arrested in March, along with co-defendant Robert Lars Pape, and charged with the Sept. 17, 2006, killings of Vicki Friedli, 53, her boyfriend Jon Hayward, 55, and her 18-year-old daughter Becky, at their Alpine Drive home. The defendants, both 25, face three counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of committing multiple murders, and two sentence-enhancing firearm-use allegations.

At a trial readiness conference and motions hearing for Smith today at Indio's Larson Justice Center, defense attorney John Patrick Dolan asked if medical staff could look at a ``serious'' arm injury Smith suffered serving in the military. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Graham Cribbs granted the request and rescheduled the hearings to June 13. Smith, a decorated U.S. Army Ranger, is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

Dolan said he didn't know the exact nature of the injury but said Smith's forearm was hurt while he served in Afghanistan.   ``It's something he's worked on to get it better ... he got it back to 90 percent and it's down to 30 to 40 percent,'' Dolan told City News Service.

``So we just need somebody to look at it.''

Smith, a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, was deployed to Afghanistan four times and Iraq once. His military decorations include two Purple Hearts, according to the Army.

At the motions hearing, attorneys will present arguments on a request to dismiss the case against Smith. Dolan said he will also file another motion alleging his client was denied due process because authorities waited more than seven years to file charges, and he plans to call witnesses for the hearing on that motion.

Pape, who is also in custody without bail, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.  Smith has pleaded not guilty and was ordered to stand trial at a preliminary hearing in March.

Firefighters who responded to a blaze at the victims' home the night of Sept. 17, 2006, found Becky Friedli's burned body in a wheelbarrow about 70 feet from the house. After firefighters doused the blaze, they found the bodies of Hayward and Vicki Friedli inside the house. Both had been shot.

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