Clarence Eugene Butterfield Gets Life in Prison for Torture-Death of Daughter Kept in Freezer
, the 57-year-old carpenter who lived in an RV with a 21-year-old daughter he tortured and killed and whose dead body was found nearly two years later in an unplugged freezer, was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"He killed a person he was supposed to protect,'' Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh said at today's sentencing hearing of the father he'd described as "vicious, cold-blooded, black-hearted" during the trial. "It's beyond any level of humanity."
Butterfield's life began to unravel after he was arrested in Dana Point for obstructing a police officer in September 2008 and subsequently extradited to Nevada to face charges on an unrelated criminal warrant. He had left his RV in the alley of an acquaintance's business, and it was later towed.
On Oct. 28, 2008, employees at a San Clemente towing yard started cleaning out the RV. They opened the unplugged, vertical freezer and discovered the body ofRebekah Butterfield
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, the RV owner's 21-year-old daughter.
Her father/murderer was sitting in a cell near Las Vegas at the time.
During trial, Butterfield insisted that he loved his daughter, that he did not kill her, that he found her body lying on the floor of his motor home, that he tried to resuscitate her, that he stored her body because he didn't think police would believe his story, that he believed in miracles and hoped that one day his daughter would be resurrected.
Baytieh painted a far different picture. He argued that Butterfield was a monster who repeatedly stabbed his daughter, who lived with him while attending community college. He also shot her in the leg, foot, knee, side of her head, and body parts that would not cause fatal injuries. She never reported the crimes, although it was his violence that prompted his wife to leave him.
Something obviously snapped when he tied naked Rebekah's ankles together and hands behind her back and stuffed her in the freezer of his RV while she was still alive. She suffocated inside the air-tight freezer.
It took the jury two and a half hours this past August to decide that Butterfield was guilty of first-degree murder.
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