Judge determines evidence sufficient to hold Smith for trial

Cristin Smith was in court for preliminary hearing Wednesday

Judge determines evidence sufficient to hold Smith for trial

INDIO, Calif. - Cristin Smith, one of two men charged with three counts of murder in a case from 2006.  For the first time, a judge allowed cameras to shoot video of Smith as he sat in court for his preliminary hearing. The 25-year-old Army ranger was clean shaven, and wore a suit at his attorney's request.  Smith and Robert Pape were arrested in connection to the deaths of 18-year old Rebecca Friedli, her mother Vickie Friedli, 53, and her mother's boyfriend, 55-year-old Jon Hayward, who were killed at their Pinyon Pines home in September of 2006. "It was the body of a young girl," said Jerry Osterloh, a deputy from the Riverside County Sheriff's department.  " She was lying in the wheel barrow, with her body in its entirety of the wheelbarrow, except her legs were hanging over the edge of the wheel barrow." 

Deputy District Attorney Michael Carney focused his case on what happened the night of September 17, 2006 when the murders occurred.  Carney called 6 witnesses, including 5 deputies and investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and one from the FBI, answering questions about evidence allegedly linking Smith and the other suspect, Robert Pape to the crime, including their cell phone activity the night of the crime. "In no time prior did I, in any of those records did I see a concurrently dark period of times, as you stated it." 

The witnesses also discussed evidence concerning a possible match of Smith's DNA at the scene as well as guns and shoes that were confiscated at his house, possibly matching evidence from the Pinyon Pines home. It was enough for a judge to order Smith the stand trial.  His attorney John Patrick Dolan disagrees, calling the evidence "woefully lacking."  Smith's father sat in the courtroom as well as Becky Friedli's father and step mother.  "I just want to see justice, like I said before, I don't want to see this crime happen to someone else again, and that's my biggest fear," said Friedli.  

Smith's father told us afterwards, he's extremely upset about the judge's decision.  Meanwhile, Friedli told us he's confident the right men are getting prosecuted and believes the trial will show it.  "I'm hoping time will tell," said Friedli.  "I'm positive it's a step in the right direction." 

Smith pleaded not guilty to all charges on March, 12. He was 17 at the time of the crimes. If convicted, he could face life in prison. He will return to court on April 9 for his arraignment. 

Pape's arraignment hearing is scheduled for April, 16. He was 18 when the crimes were committed and could face the death penalty if he's found guilty.

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