Correction: Wednesday’s article on Peter Butcher, the suspect in two Santa Barbara attacks, incorrectly stated that Butcher would not be allowed to leave Santa Barbara. Butcher is allowed to leave, but he must return for his May 8 arraignment.
The Nexus regrets this error.
The Santa Barbara Superior Court denied a motion Tuesday to allow a UC San Diego student accused of stabbing three women with a tranquilizer-filled syringe to return to San Diego for his studies.
In court yesterday, Judge Edward De Cara said due to the seriousness of the crime, 21-year-old Peter Butcher must remain in Santa Barbara County until at least his May 8 arraignment.
Butcher’s attorney, Richard Hirsch, argued that Butcher should be allowed to leave the county to attend his classes because the arraignment date would pose a burden on his schoolwork. Hirsch also said witness testimonies place Butcher outside of Santa Barbara on the dates of two of the attacks. Among the submitted evidence are time-stamped receipts for purchases Butcher claims he made in La Jolla on the day of one of the attacks.
“We met with the district attorney and the Sheriff’s Dept. last week and took a very unusual step of turning over a list of 17 witnesses and documentary evidence, which we believe proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that Peter Butcher was not in Santa Barbara when these two crimes occurred, but was rather in San Diego, which is 200 miles away,” he said.
Butcher was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon at his San Diego home on April 6 in connection with three separate attacks in the last four months.
According to police, a man matching Butcher’s description used a syringe to stab a 63-year-old French tourist in the buttocks on Santa Barbara’s East Beach in January as she bent over to pick up her watch.
Nine days after the attack at East Beach, a suspect knocked down a girl skiing at Mammoth Mountain and injected her with a tranquilizer. According to the district attorney’s office, Butcher, a member of the UCSD ski and snowboard team, competed in Mammoth that day.
Earlier this month an Isla Vista resident reported a similar attack while she was jogging on the beach in front of Sandpiper Golf Course. Police say they believe all three cases are related because of matching suspect descriptions and similarities in the style of attacks.
“It’s scary that whoever did this is still running around so we hope the police are diligent in finding who the real perpetrator was of these crimes,” Hirsch said.