A Stanislaus County Superior Court criminal complaint released on Tuesday, Aug 20 charges that Felix Valverde of Oakdale shot both Scott and Janet Pettit in their Modesto home. The Pettit’s 25-year-old son, Brandon, is also accused of the murders in the complaint.
Until the arraignment date, officials were mum on the method in which the popular Riverbank business owner and his wife were killed.
In addition to the two counts of premeditated murder charges, Brandon Pettit and Valverde are accused of arson for setting the fire that officials allege was done to cover the crime and a charge of burglary for entering the residence with the intent to commit a felony.
Valverde also faces the special circumstance of using a firearm. Both are charged with the special circumstance of committing the crimes for financial gain.
Police and prosecutors would not comment on what the financial gain was.
On Thursday, Aug. 8, at 3:10 a.m. crews from the Modesto Regional Fire Authority responded to a fire at the 4000 block of Divan Court. Fire officials later called police and arson investigators to the scene due to two unidentified bodies found inside the master bedroom.
Initially, police would not classify the cause of death to the couple, later identified as Riverbank Karate for Kids owner Scott Pettit and his wife Janet, both 59, but the following day ruled the case a homicide.
Police also stated that there had been a third person living at the residence and identified that person as Brandon Pettit, who was reportedly at work the night of the fire.
Police previously stated they believed the fire at the Pettit’s home was done to conceal the homicides to lead investigators to believe that the deaths were accidental. The investigation showed the victims were killed before the fire started.
On Aug. 17, after their extensive investigation, Modesto Police arrested Brandon Pettit and Valverde for the murders and arson.
Due to the special circumstances the pair could face the death penalty.
There has been no decision from the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office on whether or not they will seek capital punishment.
Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves postponed the Aug. 20 arraignment until Wednesday, Sept. 4, allowing defense attorneys from the public defender’s office time to review the charges and evidence provided by prosecutors.