WEST JORDAN (ABC4 News) – The suspect in last month’s double murder has been extradited back to Utah and his charging documents detail his chilling confession.
Of all the tragic details of the botched home invasion robbery contained in those documents, one stands out as the most heartbreaking: Tony and Katherine Butterfield lost their lives and their three young children lost their parents because Albert Johnson lost his car keys.
Prosecutors say Johnson, who once tried to get a job with the Butterfield’s landscaping company, was armed with a handgun and wearing a mask when he kicked in their back door to rob them. The document states “Surveillance video…appears to show Johnson entering the upstairs of the home, forcing Tony and Katherine out of bed in their undergarments and taking them to the lower level of the home. Johnson can be heard on the audio demanding money from Tony and Katherine.”
He told investigators that he took $20 and two cell phones, throwing the phones into a neighbor’s yard after he left the house.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill described what happened next.
“When he got to his car he removed his mask and realized he did not have his car keys,” Gill said at a news conference Wednesday. “He returned to the Butterfields’ house and Tony was standing inside the door. Tony saw Johnson without his mask on and addressed Johnson by name, by his first name and asked him “Why?” Tony then started stabbing Johnson to prevent him from coming back into the house. Johnson said it was so painful that he shot Tony. Katherine began screaming and Johnson thought he saw a neighbor nearby so Johnson shot Katherine.”
The Medical Examiner determined Tony’s cause of death was “a single contact gunshot wound to the head” and Katherine died of “a single gunshot wound to the torso.”
Gill’s voiced quivered with emotion when he spoke of the Butterfields’ kids who slept upstairs during the murders.
“Three children were also located inside the residence aged 6 months, 2 years and 4 years,” Gill said.
Johnson told investigators he threw the murder weapon into the Sacramento River on his way to Stockton, California where he was later arrested after a struggle with U.S. Marshals. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
“An aggravated murder case carries the potential of death penalty,” Gill said. “We will make those decisions and address those in the proper course of our prosecution as this moves forward.”
Johnson now sits in the Salt Lake County jail facing 10 total charges including two counts each of aggravated murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery. His first court appearance is scheduled for Friday morning at 8 a.m.
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