SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office will not seek the death penalty against Neven Glen Butler, 18, of North Highlands for the murder of 86-year-old Fusako Petrus, who died protecting her friend, and two counts of assault with intent to commit rape, The Sacramento Bee reports.
Prosecutors said they will seek a sentence of life without possibility of parole, citing Butler’s age, his lack of a prior criminal record, and what attorneys on both sides said were documented mental health issues.
“The facts and circumstances in the case are very egregious,” Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka said after Butler’s appearance before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Richard Sueyoshi on Nov. 1.
Slivka added that DA’s officials found that life without parole “would be a significant punishment for Butler if he were convicted.”
Linda Parisi, Butler’s court-appointed counsel, said that prosecutors made an “appropriate decision.”
Butler’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 5.
On the morning of April 26, the Sheriff’s Communication Center received a 911 call advising two females were being physically assaulted near the running track at Highlands High School. Deputies responded to the scene and located two female victims.
Deputies made contact with Petrus, who was unresponsive. They immediately began life-saving measures. Sacramento Metro Fire responded and pronounced her dead at the scene. The second female victim was 61 years old and was medically treated at the scene.
The two victims commonly walked in that area for exercise. The 61-year-old was initially attacked by Butler. When Petrus heard the commotion, she attempted to assist her friend by hitting Butler with her walking stick. The suspect then drew his attention to Petrus. He sexually assaulted both victims before causing the injuries that ultimately took Petrus’ life, then fled on foot toward Walerga Road.
That afternoon, the Sheriff’s Department was called to the 2200 block of Northrop Avenue in Sacramento. Unprovoked, Butler had physically assaulted a 92-year-old female victim, causing facial injuries. She was transported to a local hospital.
Butler was still on the scene when deputies arrived. He was taken into custody without incident, and booked at the Sacramento County Main Jail on felony assault and elder abuse charges.
After further investigation, detectives connected Butler to the sexual assaults and the murder of Petrus. He was add-booked for murder and two counts of assault with attempt to commit rape. Ineligible for bail, he was arraigned on these new charges in Sacramento Superior Court on May 1 after being arraigned April 28 before Judge Sueyoshi for the attack on the 92-year-old.
According to CBS Sacramento, the former football player, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 180 pounds, showed no emotion while in court.
Butler was a student at Highlands High from August 2015 to December 2016 and was on the school’s football team. He was previously enrolled at Oakmont High in the Roseville Joint Union High School District from August 2013 to February 2015.
Petrus was originally from Kyoto and worked as a cashier at Sacramento’s McClellan Air Force Base until her retirement. Her late husband, Alfred, was in the military, and the two were avid bowlers. He died from Alzheimer’s disease in 1997 at the age of 78.