Valley News -

By Paul J. Young
Special to the Anza Valley Outlook 

Witness waffles on murder victim's love interests in Pinyon Pines case


Last updated 5/11/2018 at 1:02pm

A woman whose mother and younger sister were allegedly killed in a triple-murder by two men in Pinyon Pines testified Thursday, May 3, that she didn’t believe her sibling was dating anyone at the time of her death, but an attorney pointed out conflicts in her recollection under cross-examination.

Jessica “Drew” Friedli testified that she spoke with her 18-year-old sister, Rebecca “Becky” Friedli, in the week before she was murdered in 2006, and nothing seemed amiss.

According to the witness, she was not aware of her sister “actually dating anyone” in the weeks preceding her death; however, under questioning by Jeff Moore, attorney for defendant Robert Lars Pape, Friedli acknowledged that she had other perceptions when she was questioned by sheriff’s investigators immediately after the killings.

After telling Moore she was “100 percent positive Becky did not date any Marines,” Jessica Friedli was shown her initial statement to a detective, in which she referred to the victim’s possible involvement with a Twentynine Palms Marine known only as “Dane.”

When Moore asked her whether she stood by her initial statement, Friedli admitted that after the passage of “12 years,” she might be experiencing memory lapses.

Pape and Cristin Conrad Smith, both 29, are each charged with three counts of first-degree murder and special circumstance allegations of taking multiple lives. Both face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of killing Becky Friedli, her mom, 53-year-old Vicki Friedli, and the latter’s boyfriend, 55-year-old Jon Hayward, on the night of Sept. 17, 2006.

Also testifying for the prosecution was Riverside County sheriff’s forensic analyst Caleb Curtner, who confirmed that he downloaded a series of photographs from Pape’s mobile phone in 2007 that revealed a large cache of weapons. Pape told a sheriff’s investigator in September 2006 that he didn’t own any firearms.

The pictures showed multiple semi-automatic rifles, though Pape was not in any of the snapshots.

Earlier last week, sheriff’s detective Scott Michaels testified about his encounter with Pape on Sept. 18, 2006, and an audio recording of that meeting was played for the jury.

During that recorded questioning, Pape attributed what he knows about the murders to Javier Garcia, Becky Friedli’s “best friend.” Garcia testified last week that he spoke with Pape twice by phone within a few hours of learning Friedli and her loved ones had been killed.

Pape told Michaels he’d had “no physical contact” with Friedli since their split in January of that year and that she initiated contact with him a week before she was killed, asking that he meet her for a hiking excursion near her family's house on remote Alpine Drive.

When the detective inquired as to what the defendant knows regarding what happened at the residence, Pape answered, “They found three people. Two people were sexless, unrecognizable. One was found in a wheelbarrow – female, about 20 years old. The whole house caught fire.”

Michaels expressed surprise that Pape knows about the charred remains in the wheelbarrow, since that information had not been publicly disclosed.

“(Javier) was just telling me about it,” Pape said in response. “I just assumed he got it (at the scene).”

Pape went on to say he doesn’t know who might have committed the murders, volunteering that he’d heard Friedli had “gotten into fights” and that he did not perceive her as “a fragile girl.”

The defendant also told Michaels that he understood one of Friedli’s relatives had floated a rumor that he “beat her” during the year they were dating.

Michaels ended the interview but received a call from Pape the following day, during which the defendant said in the recorded conversation that he omitted from his “storyline” the fact that Friedli had “been kind of obsessed with me” in the eight months after their breakup.

“She’s been showing pictures of me,” Pape said. “Javier said she’s got a whole cabinet full of my letters from when we were going out.”

According to Garcia’s testimony, Pape initiated contact with Friedli less than a week before the killings. The witness testified that Pape wanted to see her again and was interested in going on a night hike near her family’s property.

According to Garcia, he spoke with Friedli several times that September day, and in their last conversation at 6:40 p.m., she said she’d donned hiking attire and had received a call from Pape, who confirmed he was “on his way up the hill” to her home with Smith.

Garcia learned early the next morning that Friedli, her mom and Hayward had been killed. An autopsy showed the woman and Hayward were shot to death. Becky Friedli’s death was ruled “homicidal violence” because the exact cause could not be determined due to extensive fire damage.

Garcia said when he contacted Pape, the defendant stated that he had canceled the hike because Friedli had wanted to bring along several friends, vaguely identified as “Marines,” making him uncomfortable about the outing.


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