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Defense Waives Jury for Quadruple-Murder Criminal Trial in Santa Barbara Court

Case against Nicolas Holzer, accused of slaying his parents and 2 sons in 2014, will be decided by Judge Brian Hill

Murder defendant and attorney in court.
Quadruple-murder defendant Nicolas Holzer, with his attorney, Christine Voss, appears in Santa Barbara Superior Court in 2016. Holzer on Wednesday waived his right to a jury trial, and the case will be decided by Judge Brian Hill. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

With jury selection underway for a quadruple-murder case in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, the defense decided Wednesday to waive the right to a jury trial.

The criminal case against Nicolas Holzer will instead be a court trial — decided by Judge Brian Hill. 

“In some situations it is in the client’s best interest to have a court trial and I believe this is one of those instances,” said Deputy Public Defender Christine Voss, who represents Holzer.

Holzer has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to four homicide charges for allegedly killing his parents, William Charles Holzer, 73, and Sheila Garard Holzer, 74, and his sons, Sebastian Holzer, 13, and Vincent Holzer, 10.

He was arrested on Aug. 11, 2014, after allegedly calling 9-1-1 to report he had murdered his family.

Responding deputies discovered the four bodies with stab wounds at the family's home on the 600 block of Walnut Park Lane, according to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department. The family dog also was found dead at the scene.

Retired prosecutor Ron Zonen, who is one of the attorneys handling the case for the District Attorney’s Office, said a court trial likely will reduce the length of the trial, since there will be no more jury selection and some rulings that are necessary for a jury are not necessary for a judge.

“It’s exactly the same as a jury trial except we don’t have a jury,” he said.

He noted that the trial will have two phases: the guilt phase, in which the judge decides whether Holzer committed the alleged crimes, and an insanity determination if Holzer is found guiilty.

Zonen said he and Voss had been discussing the possibility of waiving a jury for a few days.

Pre-trial motions in the trial will be heard on Monday, Zonen said.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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