Trial date set for father accused of sons' deaths in arson
Article Last Updated: 09/19/2007 03:27:23 PM PDT
REDWOOD CITY - A Half Moon Bay man accused of starting a fire that caused the deaths of his two young children in 2004 will stand trial in April on murder and arson charges.
Charles Schuttloffel, 37, a commercial fisherman who was living in Half Moon Bay before being indicted by a grand jury and arrested in March, is charged with one count of arson and two counts of murder in connection with a fire that destroyed his San Gregorio home May 4, 2004.
The remains of Schuttloffel's sons, Charles Edward 'Charlie' Schuttloffel Jr., 3, and William Leonard 'Billy' Schuttloffel, 2, were later found inside the home, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
Attorneys this morning in San Mateo County Superior Court agreed the trial would begin April 28.
Schuttloffel remains in custody on a no-bail status. If found guilty of the arson and double murder charges, he could face up to life in prison without parole, according to San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
An Oct. 17 court date is scheduled to track the progress of an appeal from defense attorney Dek Ketchum of Judge Barbara Mallach's order releasing transcripts of the grand jury indictment to the public. The transcripts remain temporarily sealed pending the appeal decision.
Details of the indictment did come out at an earlier hearing July 23, when Mallach denied the setting of bail.
According to Mallach, evidence from expert testimony to the grand jury indicated that the
fire 'was not accidental and had been deliberately set,' that Schuttloffel had been the only adult present at the time, and that the children couldn't have set the fire.
Further evidence showed that Schuttloffel and his wife argued and discussed divorce the morning of the fire, Mallach said.
Finally, according to Mallach, there was evidence that 'the defendant had methamphetamine in his system, which may have affected his judgment,' she said.
According to the district attorney's office, Schuttloffel was taking care of the children while their mother Lana, a schoolteacher, was at work. Schuttloffel was outside the home in the barn at the time of the fire, the district attorney's office reported.
Authorities reported in 2004 that Schuttloffel was injured by the blaze and had to be restrained by sheriff's deputies as he tried to enter the home to save his children.
Lana Schuttloffel has said her husband was not capable of committing the crime. She has appeared at each of his many court appearances in his support.