Friday, prosecutors dismissed triple murder charges against two men accused of killing three members of a Southern California household.  The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against Robert Pape, 26, and Cristin Smith, 25, citing “legal issues” surrounding the grand jury proceedings.  Prosecutors claimed that after a recent review of the grand jury deliberations they had to drop the case.  They declined to elaborate.

The two men were accused in March and charged with the 2006 murders of Pape’s ex-girlfriend, Becky Friedli, 18, her mother, Vicki Friedli, and her mother’s boyfriend, Jon Hayward.  The teen’s body was found in a wheelbarrow near the family’s home, burned and the other two victims were found inside the burned home.  Pape and Smith were both ordered released from jail immediately.

Smith’s lawyer, John Patrick Dolan, said that his client hopes to resume his Army Ranger duties and finally meet his newborn daughter, “The case didn’t have any merit…Many times, the more gruesome and difficult and horrific the case, the more likely a judge is to allow a case to go forward, even if the evidence is thin…”

Prosecutors told the media the investigation is ongoing.

Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach was ordered to appear as a witness at a hearing on a motion to dismiss the case, but John Hall, a spokesman for Zellerbach’s office, denied that the order had anything to do with the dismissal of the case.

  1. Christine says:

    Has the new DA made any determination on the disposition of this case? I believe the case was dropped because of Brady violations committed at the grand jury hearing and Zellerbach was to be crossexamined about them. I am looking forward to an update.


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