by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
Isaiah Kalebu, the 24-year-old man accused of torturing and raping two women, and slaying one of them, in their South Park home on July 19, 2009, will not face the death penalty.
On April 28, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced that his office will not seek the death penalty for Kalebu due to the man's history of mental illness.
Kalebu currently faces charges of aggravated first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree rape, and first-degree burglary for the rape and murder of Teresa Butz, 39, and the attack on her partner, 37, last summer.
Kalebu is accused of climbing through an open window at the victims' South Park home while the women were sleeping. According to prosecutors, he raped, tortured, and stabbed the women during a 90-minute attack that left the city of Seattle horrified. Butz had fought back and jumped out a window - allowing her lover to escape - and later died from injuries she sustained during the attack. Butz, who has been hailed as a hero within the LGBT community for fighting back, is credited for saving her lover's life.
Last July, when Satterberg announced the criminal charges, he called the attack "a nightmare & all too real" and said the attack was random.
After his arrest, the public learned of Kalebu's history of mental illness. Last year, he had been diagnosed as bipolar.
Satterberg says he considered a number of factors before deciding whether to pursue the death penalty. "A jury would be justified in finding that Kalebu should not be executed because of his documented history of mental illness," Satterberg said in an April 28 news release. "While we do not believe that the history of his mental illness rises to the level of a defense to the criminal charges, we do find that it meets one or more of the statutory criteria set forth in the law that constitutes a 'mitigating factor' for purposes of the capital-punishment statute."
Though the death penalty is no longer being considered, Kalebu still faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted. Kalebu is also a suspect in the deaths of his aunt, Rachel Kalebu, 62, and her tenant John Jones, 57, in a July 9 fire at the aunt's University Place home. Charges have not been filed in that case.
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