A man accused of murdering his parents and two children at their home near Goleta on Monday night made an initial appearance in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon with his attorney.
However, Nicolas Holzer, 45, did not enter a plea, as both sides asked for a continuance while they gather more information in the case.
Holzer called 9-1-1 late Monday to report that he had murdered four of his family members, according to Sheriff Bill Brown. When deputies arrived at the house in the 600 block of Walnut Park Lane a short time later, they discovered the bodies of Holzer’s parents and his two sons, all of whom had suffered multiple stab wounds.
The family’s Australian shepherd also had been stabbed to death.
The victims were identified as William Charles Holzer, 73, Sheila Garard Holzer, 74, Sebastian Holzer, 13, and Vincent Holzer, 10.
Holzer was booked into County Jail on four counts of murder, and was being held without bail.
He appeared briefly in court Monday afternoon, and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Christine Voss, said her client has been in a safety cell since he was arrested.
Voss asked Judge Thomas Adams to make a note to jail staff that Holzer needed a psychiatric evaluation and to review his course of medications.
“We’ll make the time to make sure he gets the care he needs and so that he understands what’s going on,” she told reporters after the hearing. “We’re going to do what’s best for him and the family.”
Voss said she hadn’t talked much to her client that day, and when asked if Holzer understood the charges against him, she refused to comment.
Prosecutor Ron Zonen was also present in the courtroom Wednesday, but the arraignment was continued until Sept. 9.
On Wednesday morning, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley held a brief news conference outside of her office to talk about the charges against Holzer.
The complaint states that Holzer has been charged with five counts — four murder counts in each of the victims, as well as a count of animal cruelty, which is also a felony.
Holzer is facing the possibility of a life sentence for each count of murder without the possibility of parole, and Dudley said her office has not decided about whether to pursue the death penalty.
As to Holzer’s mental-health state at the time of the crime, “we recognize that is an issue in this case, and we will have to consider that,” she said.
Dudley said her office had been in contact with family members of the victims.
“Any time you’ve lost your loved ones, you’re extremely upset, and that’s exactly how they feel,” Dudley said.
When asked about a custody battle that may have taken place over the children, Dudley said her office would be working to obtain those records and consider them in the case.