At Monday's arraignment hearing for Ashton Colby Sachs--the 19-year-old accused of murdering his parents and attempting to murder one of his brothers and one of his sisters in San Juan Capistrano a month earlier--the prosecutor alleged the defendant spent much time planning "a horrendous crime."
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh also said the shooting spree was not financially motivated, although the prosecutor declined to say much more about motive.
Sachs did not enter a plea to two counts of murder with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, along with two counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation as the arraignment hearing was rescheduled to April 4. He was ordered to remain jailed without bail until at least then.
Erin Lindquist of the Orange County Public Defender's office represented Sachs and objected to media requests to record and photograph the hearing, complaining she had not yet received information about the case from prosecutors.
Baytieh made his remarks about Sachs' long planning before the slayings to reporters, including Paul Anderson of City News Service. The prosecutor also followed up on something Anderson and other reporters heard from lead Investigator Justin Montano at an Orange County Sheriff's Department news conference Friday: that finding a trail that led to the killer was complicated by the late Bradford and Andra Sachs' many soured business dealings. That produced speculation it was a disgruntled tenant, customer or worker who carried out the murders.
"[I]t took awhile for sheriff's (investigators) to gather information," Baytieh says in Anderson's report. "Investigators were working on the case from day one. Everybody was a suspect." It was not until combing through phone records, interviewing witnesses and examining other evidence that the focus of the investigation shifted to the divorced couple's 19-year-old son, the veteran prosecutor added.
"We are very confident that we have all the evidence that we need," Baytieh said. "I anticipate proving in court (the defendant's) planning took place over a long period of time."
From the sounds of it, records won't help the defense, as Baytieh mentioned investigators already know the North Seattle Community College student purchased the alleged murder weapon, which they recovered.
"This is a horrendous crime involving an adult man who decided to murder and kill the people that loved him the most, and the people who were supporting him,'' Baytieh says in Anderson's report.
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The reporter also detailed Orange County Superior Court records from the couple's divorce in 2000 detailed rancor over custody of Ashton Sachs' now 21-year-old brother Myles and sister Alexis, the 17-year-old who was fired at but not hit by a round last month. The 8-year-old boy left paralyzed in the shooting and another teen daughter were adopted later.
Brad Sachs was arrested by Newport Beach police in March 2000 following a custody exchange of the couple's natural-born children that led to Andra Sachs requesting a restraining order. She claimed her then-estranged husband assaulted her by opening a car door that slammed into her stomach before his vehicle collided with hers. As Andra checked on the children in her car, Brad is alleged to have thrown her on the pavement, causing her to black out briefly and sustain injuries to her head, left thigh, knee and ankle.
A judge issued the protective order on March 28, 2000, and subsequent custody exchanges had to be done at a neutral location. The couple was also ordered to enroll in parenting and anger management classes and participate in individual therapy, writes Anderson, citing court records.