Michael Christopher Sager pleaded not guilty Thursday to killing the man whose skeletal remains were discovered late last month buried in the backyard of a North Highlands home.
Sacramento County prosecutors allege the 22-year-old Sager man fatally stabbed his roommate, Joseph Michaels, 24, sometime between June 8 and June 15, 2015, and buried the body in the yard. For more than two years Michaels’ body lay before crews renovating the vacant home Dec. 26 on Dundee Drive uncovered the bones of what authorities two days later would announce was a complete human skeleton.
Little more than a week later on Jan. 5, Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies arrested Sager on suspicion of murder. He remains held without bail at Sacramento County Main Jail.
Sacramento County coroner’s officials positively identified Michaels’ body on Wednesday. A missing persons’ report was never filed for Michaels, sheriff’s officials said following Sager’s Jan. 5 arrest.
A stocky Sager stood alone in a holding cell Thursday before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet, saying only that he could not afford an attorney and that he wanted Sweet to appoint one. Sweet did and told Sager to return to his courtroom Jan. 25.
Sheriff’s investigators believe an argument between the roommates led to the fatal stabbing.