Teens Plea Not Guilty In Slaying | Print |  E-mail
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 16:05

The two former Castro Valley High School students charged with the October slaying of a Castro Valley woman, both entered pleas of not guilty Friday morning in a Hayward courtroom.


Cody Nicosia, 18, and Christian Birdsall, 16, are charged with murder and arson in the brutal strangling death of Barbara Latiolais in her home at 2431 San Carlos Ave. last Oct. 17.


They were arrested eight days later by Alameda County Sheriff’s officers at the Hayward home of Nicosia’s father where they both lived.


The crime was described as “the kind of case that fear and nightmares are made of” by Sheriff’s Sgt. JD Nelson at a news conference the day after the arrests.


Nelson said Nicosia had admitted the killing to his father, the aftermath of a scheme by the two youths to burglarize the Castro Valley home of money, jewelry and guns.


Latiolais, 58, shared the San Carlos Ave. home with her longtime partner, retired San Francisco firefighter Michael Rice. She knew and trusted Birdsall because he had done yard work for her in the past.


According to investigators, the youths were aware that Rice would be out of town that day and intended to carry out their plan after Latiolais had left the house.


When hours passed and she did not leave, Birdsall went to the door and told Latiolais he wanted to do more work. She let him into the house and he secretly let Nicosia in through a back door.


After hiding for about an hour Nicosia choked the woman, causing her to pass out. Then, after ransacking the house, investigators said the two teens strangled her with a rope and left with stolen handguns and rifles.


In an attempt to conceal their crime, Birdsall and Nicosia returned late that night, doused the home with gasoline and set it ablaze. They fled in the victim’s SUV that was found on Brookdale Blvd. the next day.


Latiolais’ body was discovered just after midnight by Alameda County Firefighters as they were extinguishing the fire.


Some of the stolen guns were recovered from Carlos Bee Park in Hayward where the teens had hidden them.


Birdsall, who is being prosecuted as an adult though only 16, and Nicosia face possible life in prison sentences if they are convicted of the charge of special circumstances for murder in the course of a robbery.Prosecutors could seek the death penalty against Nicosia since he was 18 at the time of the crimes.


Nicosia had graduated from Castro Valley High School in June. Birdsall had transferred to Redwood Continuation High School.


The two are scheduled for a pretrial hearing on April 19.



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