Grigoriy Bukhantsov will face a preliminary hearing Feb. 24 in the 2012 stabbing deaths of his sister-in-law and two of her children at their Rancho Cordova home, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ordered Friday.
Bukhantsov could be condemned to die or face life in prison without parole if found guilty of the crimes. He remains held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail.
Bukhantsov, now 22, was 19 years old when he was accused of murdering Alina Bukhantsov, 23, her daughter Emmanuela, 3, and son Avnir, 2, in their De Soto Way duplex. Grigoriy Bukhantsov’s brother, Denis, discovered their bodies. Alina and Denis Bukhantsov’s infant son, then 6 months old, was unharmed.
On Friday, a barely audible Bukhantsov looked blankly at attorney Jan Karowsky without speaking, nodding slowly at other times as Judge Steve White asked the triple-murder suspect if he wanted to enter not guilty pleas and agree to more time for his attorneys to prepare for the February hearing.
“For whatever reason, Mr. Bukhantsov is not being responsive to the court or to me,” Karowsky told White at one point after attorney and judge asked Bukhantsov to enter a plea. White finally entered a not guilty plea on Bukhantsov’s behalf.
Bukhantsov’s attorneys Hayes Gable and Karowsky argued at his August 2015 competency hearing that their client had a “major medical disorder brought on by psychosis,” and that the years before the slayings were marked with outbursts and violence that terrorized family and members of his church.
Prosecutors in August agreed that Bukhantsov suffered from mental illness, but argued that he also exaggerated and fabricated symptoms of mental illness while in Sacramento County custody and was able to assist counsel in his defense.
Jurors ultimately found Bukhantsov competent to stand trial.
Attorneys anticipate the February preliminary hearing to take up to two days.