When authorities arrived at the scene, they found Steven Fridella, Bobby Martindale, and Gary Petersen dead, lying face down on the floor with their hands bound behind them. The victim’s wallets had been rummaged through, and the house had been scoured in an apparent search for valuables.
Approximately six months later, Robin Fridella, Steven Fridella’s ex-wife, furnished police with information that pointed to Jason Walton (who she was romantically involved with at the time) and his accomplices, Terry Van Royal, Richard Cooper and Jeff McCoy.
During an interview, Walton confessed to the robbery, but denied actually shooting any of the victims. Walton said in a statement that four codefendants had planned the robbery for over a week and they went to the Fridella residence. Walton, Royal, McCoy and Cooper rounded up the adults in the house, tied their hands and laid them down on the living room floor. Jeff McCoy then returned to the car while the other three men remained in the house.
Eight-year-old Chris Fridella was also bound and ushered into the bathroom, where he was left physically unharmed.
Walton searched the house for money and cocaine while Cooper and Royal guarded the captives.
Walton claimed he ordered everyone to leave after one of the captives was able to identify him. Walton stated that he heard gunshots as he left the house.
According to the testimony of codefendant Richard Cooper, Walton pronounced that all three men must be shot after he was identified. Walton commanded Cooper and Royal to open fire on the captive men when his own gun misfired.
After leaving the house, Walton told Cooper that one of the men was still alive, at which time he ordered Cooper to return and shoot Fridella again.