Christian Birdsall, 17, and Cody Nicosia, 18, appeared in Alameda County Superior Court for the scheduled hearing, but Judge Stuart Hing reset the case for Oct. 23 at the request of a defense attorney -- despite the fact a prosecutor and the other defense attorney were ready to proceed.
Birdsall and Nicosia have pleaded not guilty to murder and arson charges.
When the teens appear in court this fall, it will be one year and a few days since 58-year-old Barbara Latiolais was found dead in her home. The slaying, which Alameda County Sheriff's deputies called "the kind of case nightmares are made of," occurred about noon Oct. 17 inside a home at 2431 San Carlos Ave., where Latiolais lived with her longtime partner, Michael J. Rice, 60, a retired San Francisco firefighter.
A prosecutor on Tuesday said the District Attorney's Office will not seek the death penalty if the teens are convicted. Birdsall, who was 16 at the time of the killing, is being prosecuted as an adult in the case. Nicosia turns 19 next week. An investigation revealed that witnesses who saw Birdsall driving the victim's car helped lead detectives to the teens less than 48 hours after Latiolais was strangled.
Police issued a search warrant for a Hayward home on Rex Road, where the teens were living with Nicosia's father. When investigators arrived, Nicosia's father became upset and told the teens, "If you did something, you need to come clean."
Police said Nicosia then looked his father in the eye and told him, "We killed someone."
Birdsall, who was distantly related to Latiolais' partner and had previously done yard work for him, knew he was going to be out of town and made plans to rob his home, investigators said. The suspects waited outside, and when Latiolais failed to leave the home as expected, Birdsall went to the door about noon and offered to do some work, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.
Latiolais, who neighbors described as a "kind, peaceful woman," let Birdsall into the home. He unlocked the back door for Nicosia, who allegedly came up behind the woman and choked her until she passed out. According to Nelson, the two then strangled her with a rope after she began making noises.
The teens allegedly completed the burglary, left the home in the couple's Volvo and went to lunch at a local restaurant. After meeting up with friends, they reportedly decided to return to the house, where they are thought to have soaked Latiolais' body with gasoline and spread fuel around the home. The pair left close to midnight, reportedly after throwing a match through the front door. Fire crews found her body while tackling the blaze.
The teens on Tuesday remained in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin on no-bail holds.
Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.