Pape pleads not guilty at arraignment

Case had been postponed six times

INDIO, Calif. - The ex-boyfriend of a young woman killed in a 2006 triple murder in Pinyon Pines was arraigned in Indio Friday morning.

News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 was in the courtroom when Robert Lars Pape plead not guilty. 

Pape was arrested in March, along with co-defendant Cristin Conrad Smith, 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.

Arraignment for Pape, an ex-boyfriend of Becky Friedli, had been postponed six times before Friday's appearance, mainly because his attorney said he didn't get information on the case from the prosecution.

Pape and Smith face three counts of murder, with special circumstance allegations of committing multiple murders and two sentence-enhancing firearm- use allegations. Pape, 26, could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted because he was an adult at the time of the killings.

Smith -- 17 at the time of the slayings and now 25 -- faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if found guilty.

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.

According to testimony and court documents, a cousin and friends of Becky Friedli told investigators that she mentioned plans to go hiking with Smith and Pape.

``Pape later told investigators that he and Smith decided not to go hiking with Becky and instead the two men were only with each other the night of the murders,'' Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesman John Hall said.

Smith was found to be a possible contributor to a mix of DNA on a business card discovered near what investigators believed was the starting point of a trail left by the wheelbarrow containing Friedli's body, according to authorities.

FBI Special Agent Kevin Boles testified at Smith's preliminary hearing that cell phone records for Smith and Pape showed all calls made to the defendants between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. went to voicemail.

Shotguns, a handgun holster and shoes also were seized from the suspects' homes.

According to a grand jury affidavit, Pape and Becky Friedli dated for 15 months before they broke up in January 2006. She reportedly told a friend three weeks before she was killed that Pape had told her ``that if he couldn't have her, nobody could.''

Hall said the District Attorney's Office first received the case for review last year, and it was decided that more investigation was needed. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department brought the case back in December, and the D.A.'s office did follow-up investigating and opted to present the case to a grand jury. Pape was indicted in March, and a complaint was filed against Smith.

A judge ruled in March that there was enough evidence for Smith to proceed to trial, and in June another judge denied Smith's attorney's motion to dismiss the charges.

Both Pape and Smith are being held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. Smith is due back in court Aug. 1.

There's a motion in the works to consolidate the cases so both suspects would be tried together. News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 will continue to track the developments in court and provide updates on air and online. 

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