Originally posted at 12:43 p.m. March 14, 2014. Edited to add more details.
By PAUL ANDERSON
City News Service
A 19-year-old college student accused of murdering his parents and leaving his 8-year-old brother paralyzed spent a long time planning the ambush at the family's San Juan Capistrano home, a prosecutor alleged today.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh also told reporters that the crimes were not financially motivated, but declined to provide further details about what allegedly led Ashton Colby Sachs to carry out the the Feb. 9 pre-dawn attack on his family while they slept.
Sachs -- who is also accused of shooting at one of his sisters, who escaped harm -- made his initial court appearance today on charges that could result in life imprisonment without parole if he's convicted.
Sachs' arraignment on two counts of murder with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, along with two counts of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, was rescheduled to April 4. He was ordered to remain jailed without bail.
Sachs was arrested Thursday night. He was initially questioned in San Diego County, where he was staying with relatives, then brought to Orange County sheriff's headquarters in Santa Ana.
Erin Lindquist, an Orange County deputy public defender, represented Sachs in court today. She objected to media requests to record and photograph the hearing, complaining she had not yet received any information about the case from prosecutors.
Bradford Hans Sachs, 57, and his ex-wife, Andra Resa Sachs, 54, were found dead and their 8-year-old son wounded about 2 a.m. Feb. 9 inside their home in the 32000 block of Peppertree Bend.
Two daughters were in the residence but were unable to identify the killer the night of the shootings, Baytieh said.
One of the attempted murder counts pertains to Sachs' 17-year-old sister. He allegedly fired at her, but missed, according to Baytieh.
The parents' business background complicated the investigation, according to Justin Montano, the primary detective on the case. The couple had extensive real estate holdings and investigators had been working to determine if their deaths were related to their business dealings, he said last week.
"To us, it was at the time a whodunit," Montano said, referring to the immediate aftermath of the killings.
Baytieh said today that "it took awhile for sheriff's (investigators) to gather information. Investigators were working on the case from day one. Everybody was a suspect."
Investigators combed through phone records, interviewed witnesses and examined other evidence before their focus turned to the couple's 19-year-old son, Baytieh said.
"We are very confident that we have all the evidence that we need," the prosecutor said.
"I anticipate proving in court (the defendant's) planning took place over a long period of time," he said, adding that the North Seattle Community College student purchased the alleged murder weapon, which investigators believe they have recovered.
The prosecutor said the defendant's parents had been"supportive" of their son.
"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 said.
Orange County Superior Court records pertaining to the couple's divorce in 2000 shed a little light about some of the rancor between the two that also involved their three biological children. Their 8-year-old son and another daughter were adopted later.
Brad Sachs was arrested by Newport Beach police in March 2000 following a custody exchange of the couple's children Myles, Ashton and Alexis. Myles was 8 at the time, the defendant was 6, and Alexis was 3.
Andra Sachs requested a restraining order, alleging her then-estranged husband assaulted her as he was picking up the three children for visitation, according to court records. She alleged he opened a car door that slammed into her stomach before his vehicle collided with hers.
As Andra Sachs went to check on the children in her car, she alleged their father "came after me and threw me onto the pavement, where I hit my head and, for a brief moment, blacked out. I received injuries to my head, left thigh, knee and ankle."
Andra Sachs also alleged that her husband had introduced his girlfriend, Sheri, to the three children a week after he moved out.
Their son, Myles, "told me that, 'I saw Daddy sexing Sheri,"' Andra Sachs said in the restraining order declaration. "Myles has also told me he has seen Daddy and Sheri naked."
On March 28, 2000, a judge issued an order prohibiting the father's girlfriend from staying over during visitations with the children. Custody exchanges were to be done at a neutral location and the couple was ordered to enroll in parenting and anger management clases as well as participate in individual therapy, according to court records.
There are no other records of discord between the two in the divorce.