At their Wednesday, Sept. 25 arraignment in Stanislaus County Superior Court, Brandon Scott Pettit, 25, and Felix Valverde, 26, pleaded not guilty to murder and arson charges in the deaths of Pettit’s parents, Scott and Janet Pettit of Modesto.
The pair also rebuffed enhancements of committing the crime for financial gain to their charges, which gives the case special circumstances making it eligible for the death penalty.
The district attorney’s office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in this case.
Judge Dawna Reeves scheduled the next court date, a pretrial hearing, for Nov. 6 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 1.
The deaths of well known Karate for Kids business owner Scott Pettit and his wife Janet, both 58, were classified as homicides by Modesto Police investigators on Aug. 9 after their bodies were found following a house fire in the early morning hours of Aug. 8.
Pettit and Valverde were arrested on Aug. 17. Investigators believe the homicide was committed for financial gain and the fire was set to cover up the murder. Police have indicated a gun was used in commission of the crime, and Valverde was additionally charged with using the gun in connection with the deaths of the couple.
The suspects are being held without bail in the Stanislaus County Jail.