RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Robert Pape and Cristin Smith made their latest appearance in a Riverside courtroom Friday, where prosecutors and defense attorneys confirmed they're ready for trial.
Both men are accused of a 2006 triple-murder in Pinyon Pines.
The charred bodies of 18-year-old Rebecca "Becky" Friedli, her mother Vicki Friedli, and Vicki's boyfriend Jon Hayward, were discovered at a residence in the small mountain community of Pinyon Pines.
At about 9:50 p.m., firefighters were called to a residential structure fire in the 68000 block of Alpine Drive in Pinyon Pines. Firefighters found Becky Friedli’s body on fire in a wheelbarrow near the home. After extinguishing the house fire, firefighters found the bodies of Vicki Friedli and Hayward inside the residence.
The maximum sentence for Pape and Smith if convicted as currently charged, would be life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The trial for both men is expected to start January 22.
Smith's attorney, John Patrick Dolan, said Friday's hearing involved confirming the date, and his client being tried as an adult with Pape.
Smith was a juvenile at the time the murders took place.
"He was 23 days short of being 18, and one of the factors is the gravity of the offense," Dolan said. "And based on the gravity of the offense, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that this is a case that will be tried in adult court."
Before the trial begins, both prosecutors and defense attorneys will be meeting for what's called a "trial readiness conference," to determine if two juries, one for Pape and one for Smith, will be needed.
"Sometimes there's testimony or evidence that only pertains to one of the defendants in a multiple defendant case," John Hall, Public Information Officer for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office said. "We believe that that is the issue here."
"The District Attorney has to elect to either not use that evidence, or to choose to ask for that two juries, so that the evidence would come in with one jruy and not the other, and then vice versa depending on the evidence," Dolan said.
Both sides said they're ready for what's ahead.
"It's needed to happen for sometime," Hall said. "We're finally at the point where it's going to happen, and we can get justice for the victims in this case."
"It's a very challenging case, but frankly, I think we have everything we need to show that Cristin Smith is not guilty of the crimes charged," Dolan said.
The trial readiness conference is set for January 5.
KESQ and CBS Local 2 also reached out to Jeff Moore, Robert Pape's attorney, who did not comment on the hearing.