SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 1, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A man convicted in a double-homicide has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of a West Jordan husband and wife on April 18 of this year.
Albert Enoch Johnson, 31, was sentenced in 3rd District Court Thursday by Judge James Blanch.
Johnson pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated burglary, all first-degree felonies. The burglary charge was related to an unrelated case in September 2019. In exchange for the guilty pleas, eight other charges related to the case in West Jordan were dismissed.
Johnson’s guilty pleas were part of an agreement with prosecutors that took the death penalty off the table.
Johnson was arrested on April 22 in connection with the deaths of Katherine and Tony Butterfield, ages 30 and 31, in their own home. The Butterfields’ three children, age six months to 4 years, were found unhurt in the residence, which showed signs of forced entry.
Johnson’s apprehension took place in Stockton, California. Tips placed him in that city, and he was arrested by police there and U.S. Marshals stationed in California, with assistance from Utah-based U.S. Marshals.
At a press conference at the time, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill outlined the case, saying that at approximately 1:15 a.m. April 18, officers responded to the area of 6920 S. 3300 West on reports of shots fired and a woman screaming.
“When the officers arrived in the area they found the lights on in the residence at 3277 W. 6920 South. Officers were unable to contact anyone at the front door, so they made entry through the backyard, where they found a deceased male and a deceased female, later identified as Tony and Katherine Butterfield,” Gill said. “Three children were also located inside the residence, ages six months, two years and four years old.”
The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner subsequently performed autopsies on the couple and found the preliminary cause of death for Tony Butterfield was a single gunshot wound to the head, and his manner of death was homicide. The preliminary cause of death for Katherine Butterfield was a single gunshot wound to the torso, and her manner of death was homicide.
“Forensic and digital evidence was collected on scene and the surrounding area which led the investigators to identify Albert Johnson as the suspect,” Gill said. “Detectives received information that Johnson had sustained stab wounds to his body during his altercation with Mr. and Mrs. Butterfield. During a search of Johnson’s apartment, blood was located in several areas of the home and a shotgun was located in Johnson’s residence.”
The suspect’s clothing and shoes that he was allegedly wearing at the time of the homicides, all of which were stained with blood, were retrieved from a dumpster near his home after allegedly being placed there by his wife on the morning of the homicides.
Johnson fled to California that same morning, Gill said. A witness was able to provide an exact location where Johnson was staying in Stockton, California and that information was provided to U.S. Marshals, who took him into custody. The car Johnson was believed to be driving was also located.
“Post Miranda, Johnson admitted that he was the person who killed the Butterfields,” Gill said. “Johnson stated that he knew the Butterfields and he believed they had money. He stated that he had been worried about his own finances so he went to the Butterfield’s home to ‘get money.’ When he arrived at their home he covered his face with a mask and kicked in the door. He indicated that he pointed a gun at Tony and told him he just wanted money.”
Gill clarified that Johnson was not an employee of the Butterfields, but was known to them.
Johnson told detectives he left with $20 and two cell phones. He left the house and cut through a neighbor’s yard where he discarded the two cell phones, Gill said.
“When he got to his car he removed his mask and realized he did not have his car keys,” Gill said. “He returned to the Butterfield’s house and Tony was standing inside the door. Tony saw Johnson without his mask on and addressed Johnson 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 suspect then went into the Butterfield’s house and retrieved his keys. He allegedly fled the residence and went to his own apartment where he changed his clothes and left for California. He told a detective he threw the gun he allegedly used to shoot the Butterfields into the Sacramento River.
“Surveillance video of inside the (Butterfield’s) residence was obtained by the detectives and 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 house. Johnson can also be heard on the audio demanding money from Tony and Katherine.”
Johnson’s wife, Sina Johnson, pleaded guilty in August to a charge of attempting to obstruct justice, a third-degree felony. Prosecutors agreed to her release from the Salt Lake County Jail at that time.