After the verdict in the pinyon pines triple murders was handed down the assistant district attorney and Cristin Smith’s defense attorney had polar opposite reactions.
“Nobody wins in this type of situation, I mean I feel for the Smith and Pape family members but I‘m also very thankful for the jury’s verdict,” says John Aki, with the Riverside County District Attorney.
“Extreme Disappointment, probably one of the disappointing verdicts I‘ve been involved in in the last forty years of practice,” says John Patrick Dolan of Dolan Law Offices, who represented Cristin Smith in the trial.
Robert Pape and Smith were found guilty of first degree murder in the deaths of Vicki Friedli and her boyfriend Jon Hayward, but in the death of 18-year-old Becky, Vicki’s daughter and Pape’s ex-girlfriend, Pape was found guilty of second degree murder and Smith not guilty, Aki says it matches the 2006 crime scene, the couple shot dead inside their home that was set on fire, and Becky’s charred remains in a wheelbarrow outside.
“It’s clear that they believe that something went wrong and what went wrong happened between Mr. Pape and Becky and Cristin was there to clean up after him and I believe that’s what their verdict signaled and said,” says Aki.
Dolan says they weren’t allowed to present their version of events, “The judge prevented us from presenting evidence on who else it could have been,” he says adding he thinks two potential suspects went unnoticed, “Javier Garcia, Jacob Santiago both had relationships with her there were a handful of other individuals and the guy in the truck whoever that was seems to be a pretty serious suspect, never followed up on.”
Dolan says while he respects the jurors for their diligence he thinks they got it wrong, “You have to give the jurors credit for that ten days going through the evidence was an awfully long time but at the end of ten days there wasn’t anything more than a story based on bits and pieces of evidence that never constituted proven facts.”
Because of a special circumstance both face life without parole, Dolan says this verdict does not mean the end, “We don’t give up we’re going to file motions, we’re going to file a notice of appeal and we will fight this case as far as we can, Cristin Smith deserves it.”