Overview of the Evidence

This article is under construction…

Here are the primary elements of ‘evidence’ against the defendants Robert Pape and Cristin Smith.

The first group of items were specifically enumerated by the trial judge as he justified his opinion on the case, both before and after the trial.

Item 1: Fire Timing

The first calls to the fire station may have occurred around 9:40 pm. The first official 911 dispatch occurred at 10:51 pm, but by then the trucks were already on the road.

Robert checked his voice mail at 10:23. This could give the defendants as much as 43 minutes to make it from the crime scene, down the hill, across the valley, to tower 645.  Travel time estimates roughly concur.  But important variations exist in the interpretations, and in the elapsed times that should have occurred.  Much was made of this in court.

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Item 2: Wheelbarrow Tracks and the Vans Shoe Print

Sheriff’s investigators claim to have found a trail leading away from the wheelbarrow, where Becky’s body was found. Along that trail, they found footprints. 

The trail, they insist, went on for 200 yards. Or, it may have been 800 yards. There was conflicting testimony from various on-scene investigators, and records were poorly kept, to say the least. It was a harbinger of an overall shoddy investigation which failed to protect the rights of the accused.

The ‘trail’ is important, because it links the actual crime scene to a single piece of debris found tumbling in the desert: a business card. Even so, the track ended 50 feet from the card.

Along this ‘trail’ was a series of footprints. While you would expect that a 200 yard stretch of footprints would contain around 200 footprints, they found exactly five: Three of one kind and two of another. 

Two of the footprints contained a logo of the shoe brand: Vans. 

One year later, during a search of Robert’s home, a pair of Vans shoes were found. Much ado was made of the Vans shoes that Robert owned. Never once did the prosecution admit that the logo on the shoe print was totally different than the logo on Robert’s shoe. This is guilt by brand loyalty.

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Item 3: The Business Card

The only piece of trace evidence within miles. It was found between 200 to 800 yards away from the crime scene. A hypothetical track was imagined, which came within 50 feet of the card. Investigators posit that the card was dropped less than 24 hours before it was found.

In reality, the card was probably laying in the desert for months. Ninhydrin applied to the card showed purple traces of physical contact. The purple was most faint on the area that was facing the sun, indicating long-term exposure.

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Items 4: .40 Caliber Glock type

The judge asserted that it was known that one of the murder weapons was a .40 caliber, possibly a Glock handgun. This was a popular phrase among investigators, because it ties in to other circumstances.

Item 5: No weapons at the scene were tied to the crime.

There is some information available about the types of weapons that were used at the crime. We know, for sure, that a 12 gauge shotgun was involved. It was the weapon used to kill Jon Hayward. He was shot once, possibly from a distance. Then he was shot again, at point blank range. Presumably as he lay on the ground. The wadding was found, in tact, in his chest cavity.

There was also a gun that fired either .40 caliber or 10mm bullets. A slug from such a gun was found in the cranium of Vicky Friedli.  a .40 caliber is a very popular gun, especially among law enforcement personnel.

The investigators are quick to make the connection to a Glock, model 22, a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun.  Numerous press statements used the phrase ‘.40 caliber, possibly a Glock’. There is a specific reason for this, relating to a holster that was found.

None of the weapons found at the scene were tied to the crime.

Two shotguns were found during searches conducted a year after the murders took place.

A witness, Chad B., went on a trip into the desert to go shooting with Robert and Cristin (and a friend and his father). Chad stated he saw shotguns and, ultimately, a Glock handgun. He stated this occurred in mid/late 2007.  Much pressure was applied to young Chad, to make him remember that it was 2006. He resisted. They persisted. Ultimately, 11 years later, Chad resigned to ‘maybe’. 

He also insisted he did not know the caliber. They persisted again, this time that it must be a .40 caliber. Chad held his ground: he did not know. At one point, Investigator Ryan Bodmer openly testified that Chad remembered a .40 caliber. He had to be corrected by a defense statement.

Item 6: A Plan to Go Hiking

Becky invited Robert to go hiking on Sunday evening. Robert half-heartedly agreed. He then turned to Cristin and said ‘There is no way we are going hiking’. (Robert was blissfully happy with his current girlfriend, whom he eventually married.)

On Sunday evening, Becky called him repeatedly. She then tried to contact Cristin. Eventually the boys turned their phones off. If Becky thought they were on their way, she would have never tried to call them, knowing that they would not have service on the road to her rural home.

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Item 7: What Time did Robert Get Home?

Robert wasn’t sure exactly when Cristin dropped him off at home. He stated, first, that he thought it was around 10:30 pm. He later said his cousin thought it was closer to 9:30 pm. 

If it was 10:30, Robert would have had time to commit the murders, set the fire, and be home just in time to play video games with his cousin, Martin, until they both fell asleep on the couch. This fits in with the Prosecutors timeline.

Item 8: Smith and Pape Reaffirmed Statement

Judge Schwartz’ words, not mine

Item 9: Cell phone records do not match Smith’s statement

…pics of cell phone records, transcripts of statements

Item 10: Inactive time on their phones

There was a period of time in which neither Robert or Cristin’s phones were receiving calls.  Numerous calls were made. All went to voice mail, with no tower connections made. This could mean one of two possible things occurred: 1) they went into a no-service area, such as Hwy 74 and the Pinyon Pines area, or 2) they turned off their phones. 

There are specific jury instructions for times like these: choose the explanation that points to innocence.

The boys stated they had turned off their phones to avoid Becky’s persistent calls to come up and go hiking. (These calls took place after 7:00. The sun had already set, and there was no moon.)

Item 11: Jeremy Witt statement

The Overheard Confession: The star witness, a jailhouse snitch with nothing to lose and much-needed leniency to be gained. Throw in a possible $100k reward for good measure. His timeline shows circumstances consistent with suborned perjury.

…What he said at a party included 

…For more information, click…

Item 12: Shotgun. Glock Holster and spent casings found at Robert’s home

In August of 2007. almost one full year after the murders took place, search warrants were issued on both Robert’s and Cristin’s homes.  Shotguns were found, as they were target practice enthusiasts. 

Robert Pape, enrolled in law enforcement training, was advised to purchase a sidearm. At eighteen years old, he could afford the holster, if not the gun. Sheriff’s investigators found a new Glock holster (for various calibers). New. In the unopened package. And a purchase receipt to go with it. This, they say, ties him to the murder.

Item 13: Robert stated that he never owned guns or shot

…Need exact words from statement…

Item 14: Robert stated he hadn’t talked to Becky in months

Robert said he hadn’t spoken to Becky in months, prior to her visit to him on Thursday. Phone records show he called her at 1:00am Thursday morning, then again later that day. Investigators retrieved only Robert’s calls from Thursday morning on. Becky had called robert prior to Thursday. Robert was simply returning her call during the hours she was normally awake (she worked graveyard shift at Denny’s).

Item 15: Javier Garcia’s statement

Item 16: Javier cant get ahold of becky

Javier tried to call Becky. She didn’t answer. In the judge’s mind this would indicate that Javier must not have known that she was dead. 

The judges logic is that since Javier called her after the time of death, he must not have known about it. Could it have been a ruse? if so, the judge fell right for it.  It is like it was right out of a TV show!

Comedy Detective Show ‘Psych’  Season 3 Episode 13.

This is an unfortunate holdover from the logic used to deny the boys the opportunity to present the option that someone else may have committed the crime; known as ‘Third-Party Culpability.

Item 17: Robert never tries to call Becky

Robert didn’t try to call Becky. Another leap of logic by the judge. He  believes that if Robert didn’t try to call her, that would imply that Robert knows she is dead and, therefore, must have killed her.

As an alternative reality, Robert never called Becky anyway.  She was always trying to call him. They had become distant friends after the breakup 9 months prior. It was not Robert’s agenda to rekindle the romance.

The judge, seeking to justify his actions, seems to be acting on behalf of law enforcement – a recurring theme. Re-election campaigns benefit from a D.A. endorsement.

Item 18 Probable Cause the boys are guilty

Other Items presented by the prosecution

In addition to the judge’s enumerated list, these items were presented in the course of the trial.

Cell Tower Connections

The prosecution presented a series of cell tower connections made by Robert and Cristin’s phones. They claim that they show the boys heading southeast, towards the entrance to Hwy 74, the road to Pinyon Pines. They also claim this conflicts with their statements. 

Additionally, while the boys claim they turned their phones off, so as to not be bothered by the persistent Becky, The Prosecution claims they no longer received a signal because they were in the Pinyon Pines area: an area with a reputation for bad cell service.

Both possibilities are plausible. The defendants claim they were simply on the desert floor near those towers, but nowhere near the crime scene.

Robert stated that he went to Cristin’s house because there was no church. That is a general answer to a general question. More specifically, Robert and Cristin left Robert’s house and drove southeast towards the church. He called 411 and the church along the way. Tower connections demonstrate this. Then, after finding it was too late, they turned around and went northwest to Cristin’s father’s house.

The prosecution contends that those tower connections were made along the way to hwy 74, the entrance of which was right next to the church.

Phone Logs

Discuss the calls going between Robert, Becky and Cristin.

Robert’s Statements about his Activities

As described above, Robert provided a general answer to a general question. He said he went to Cristin’s house when he found he was too late for church. This implies he was travelling northwest. More specifically, he went southeast first, on his way to the church. They then turned around after finding out it was too late for church. His cell tower connections put him heading towards both hwy 74 and the adjacent church.

Things Robert Knew that he Shouldn’t Have

This is a major point in this case: How did he know about the girl in the wheelbarrow? He claims Javier Garcia told him the next day. Javier testified that he didn’t know that information for up to four days. A police interview with the manager of the Denny’s where Becky worked shows Javier called her early that next day and told her the same information.

Javier knew. Javier told Robert. Javier lied on the stand.

Robert’s Bank Statements

Specifically included to show that he did not purchase any chapstick with his debit card. Rather than secure the security video from the convenience store where Robert said he was, prosecutors sought to demonstrate that he was never really there. (Hint: a 69 cent purchase is often made with change)

Exculpatory Evidence (conveniently spoliated)

The AM/PM Security Footage (never retrieved)

Cristin’s Aunt Norma Never interviewed. (Now deceased)

Cristin’s Mother

Cristin’s fiance’

Robert’s cousin (never interviewed)

Robert’s Mother

In Summary

Robert and Cristin were gun enthusiasts. That doesn’t make them murderers.  Cristin went on to join the Army and serve valiantly for his country in Iraq and Afghanistan,  Robert was enrolled in police training in 2007. Ironically, this very case put an end to his aspirations.

Becky still had feelings for Robert. Robert was virtually engaged to another girl, whom he eventually married. Becky wanted Robert to go hiking. Robert had no such intention.

The boys were on the valley floor. That is where they made all the cell phone connections. There is virtually no evidence that they went up to Pinyon Pines, save for a remote piece of debris a long ways from the crime scene.  It is an impractical stretch to connect the business card with the crime. 

What happened that night was probably pretty close to the scenario painted by defense attorney Jeff Moore during closing arguments.  Two bad guys in a home invasion of sorts. Becky just stumbled in at the wrong time. It even coincides with the statement from a manager at Becky’s work: she came down the hill, but had to go back up for something.

Comments 7

  1. Pingback: A Tragedy Compounded by a Wrongful Conviction | Pinyon Pines Murders

  2. I believe after watching some of the videos on this murder that they should be looking at Javier Garcia. He knew way to much about certain things and his dad was an A.D.A. at the time too. His father was ticked off that Javier didn’t get immunity for his testimony and blew up the previous D.A.’s career over it. Take a hard look at the kids who had invited himself to go hiking with them and was in love with the girl himself.

  3. This started out as a meth ripoff based on a rumor that there was a meth lab and/or quantity of meth in the Friedli house. It has all the earmarks of meth heads on a psychotic rampage. Javier Garcia knows at least one of the killers. Like or not he probably started the rumor and drove the killers to the scene thinking that there would be something in it for him. His demand for immunity was due to his first hand knowledge of how fucking crazy meth heads can be. Craziness runs deep through the meth community. I know because I was involved in that culture. Meth addicts DO NOT HAVE A CUT OFF SWITCH! When something goes wrong with a plan it just gets worse and worse by the second. For Javier to testify against anyone in this set would have been suicidal. Absolutely in no way did this incident involve Cristin Smith. Robert Pape was so right to say at the trial that Cristin did not belong there.

    1. I read on vanguard that there were 3 calls made to police that night about a “meth party” in pinyon pines as well as a man threatening to burn someone’s house down and kill someone. However, the article did not source any of the info and I have been looking for more info/evidence on this. Do you know/any know if this is true?

  4. Veteran’s of foreign wars are given to battles with their consciences for years following the wars that they fought. In one way or another every vet suffers PTSD. I could hear it in Cristin Smith’s voice when he made his trial statement. The “evidence” submitted against this man portrayed him as a cold blooded murderer. Impossible! His training and heart wrenching experiences prevented him from ever engaging in such an atrocity as happened to the Friedli’s. One does not become a hero by doing the wrong things. Now Cristin needs a hero to stand with him and I call on every veteran and every soldier, sailor and marine on active duty to rise in defense of this American Warrior.

  5. I agree Javier’s behaviour warrants further investigation but I genuinely believe we need to look Vicki’s ex husband further as well and possibly Jacob etc… Jumping to conclusions and confirmation bias is what landed two people who in all likelihood are innocent of this crime, locked in jail while the perpetrator/s walk free.

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