Fire case delay questioned

Prosecutors violated a Half Moon Bay father’s right to due process by waiting 34 months after his two sons died in a fire to indict him for murder, his defense attorney argued in a motion filed last week to dismiss the case.

A judge will hear the arguments March 28, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Dek Ketchum, attorney for Charles Schuttloffel, claims an undue delay has decreased the likelihood of Schuttloffel receiving a fair trial.

On Friday, Wagstaffe said prosecutors were actively working on the case during those 34 months. </p>

Schuttloffel, a commercial fisherman, was indicted by a grand jury in March 2007 on one count of arson and two counts of murder.

His trial is scheduled for April 28.

A fire destroyed Schuttloffel’s San Gregorio home May 4, 2004, killing 3-year-old Charles “Charlie” Schuttloffel Jr. and 2-year-old William “Billy” Schuttloffel.

Authorities at the time said Schuttloffel had to be restrained as he tried to run back into the burning house to save his children.

Prosecutors now say that Schuttloffel was high on methamphetamine and angry over his wife’s threats to divorce him when he set the house ablaze and fled to the family’s barn.

“The reason for the delay was that there was a fairly constant and ongoing investigation to show who was responsible for this,” Wagstaffe said. “It remained open and finally reached a level where we thought there was enough evidence to file charges.”

tbarak@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Crowded neighborhoods left out of Slow Streets

Tenderloin, SoMa seen as bad fit for car-free program

Parents press for in-person options, better distance learning as Board of Education weighs fall plans

With distance learning looking likely to continue in the fall semester, some… Continue reading

City attorney seeks to block contractor in Nuru scandal from obtaining government contracts

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has moved to prohibit AzulWorks, Inc. and its… Continue reading

Supes approve $2.1M settlement over sewage spills at SF’s Hall of Justice jail

San Francisco has tentatively agreed to pay out a total of $2.1… Continue reading

US backs down in fight with Harvard, MIT over student visas

The U.S. backed down from a high-profile confrontation with two elite universities… Continue reading

Most Read