[UPDATED:] Trial of the Alleged Torture Dad Ends in Conviction
We have a verdict, ladies and gentlemen. Torture dad is going to find out what cellmates do to people like him after all. Read about his testimony, and the jury's decision after the jump.
Have you ever heard the one about the man living in a van, down by the river, who is being accused of torturing his daughter before stuffing her in the freezer? If you forgot, let us rehash the horrific imagery, before updating you on the status of his trial.
Meet, again, Clarence Eugene Butterfield. A 57-year-old man and father, formally of San Clemente. The Orange County DA office is alleging that he lived in an RV, along with his 21-year-old daughter, Rebekah Butterfield, until he killed her, and that he proceeded to lived with her dead body for a nearly two years.
It took the jury two and a half hours to decide that Papa Butterfield was guilty of the "first-degree murder of Rebekah Butterfield, 21, during the commission of torture and mayhem," according to the OC Register. The conviction means life in prison without the possibility of parole for the construction worker.
No doubt, Butterfield's personal testimony didn't help.
"[Butterfield] insisted that he loved his daughter and did not kill her. Instead, he claimed he found her body lying on the floor of his motor home, tried to resuscitate her, and then decided to store her body because he didn't think police would believe his story. He also told the jury that he believed in miracles and hoped that one day his daughter would be resurrected," says the OC Register
The District Attorney wasn't having it either.
"Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh argued that Butterfield was a 'vicious, cold-blooded, black-hearted" monster: who intentionally shot his daughter seven times in non-vital parts of her body to prolong her torture. Baytieh said Butterfield hogtied his daughter, who had been living with him in the motor home, and crammed her into the freezer while she was still alive. A pathologist testified that Rebekah suffocated."
This father-daughter relationship appears to have been unusual with a strong helping of crazy thrown in. According to the Orange County DA's press release, Rebekah lived with Dad even after he shot and stabbed her, in the months leading up to her death. Those crimes were never reported.
In December 2006, Papa Butterfield snapped something special, according to the DA's accusations.
"He is accused of torturing the victim and intentionally making her suffer by repeatedly shooting her in the leg, foot, knee, side of her head, and body parts that would not cause fatal injuries. He is accused of tying his naked daughter's ankles together and hands behind her back and stuffing her in the freezer of his RV while she was still alive. Butterfield is accused of suffocating his daughter to death in the air-tight freezer."
The DA believes that Butterfield continued to live in the RV while his daughter's body was stashed in the freezer.
What remained of her wasn't discovered until September of 2008, when Butterfield was arrested in Orange County for obstructing a police officer, and subsequently shipped to Nevada to face charges on an unrelated criminal warrant.
He left his RV in the alley of an acquaintance's business. It was later towed. October 28, 2008, employees at the San Clemente towing company started cleaning out the RV. They opened the vertical freezer, and shat their pants (probably) when confronted with the scene out of Rob Zombie's latest horror flick.
The OC Sheriff's Department was alerted, and according to the officers that responed, the body was badly decomposed and wrapped in plastic. At least good ol' Butterfield was easy enough to find; he was still in custody in Las Vegas for God knows what awful crime.
"[He] was charged Oct. 30, 2008, for the murder of Rebekah Butterfield. The defendant was brought back to Orange County April 14, 2009, to face charges. He was indicted on the charges Dec. 8, 2009," says the DA.
Opening statements in his trial are expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. today in Department C-45, of the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
If convicted on all counts, Butterfield faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
What do cellmates even do to someone this twisted?
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.