Lawsuit alleging three women were held captive and illegally jailed by sheriff's deputies
Last May, in the aftermath of a brazen, daytime shooting that killed two teenage brothers in the parking lot of a Fruitridge Road strip mall, Sacramento sheriff's detectives arrested two suspects in the case who are soon to face preliminary hearings on murder charges.
But the case has now expanded beyond a double-murder investigation, with family members of one suspect claiming they were held in jail for days in a bid to use them as bait to get the suspect to surrender.
The claims are contained in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the grandmother, mother and half-sister of suspect Richard Jefferson Saterfield, who has been charged with the May 11, 2017, slayings of Daniel Murti, 19, and Sergio Murti, 15.
The three women contend that sheriff's officials held them hostage in the Sacramento County Jail and searched their homes and the contents of their cell phones without warrants.
"It's pretty unusual," said Sacramento attorney Stewart Katz, who filed the lawsuit. "They weren't arrested for a crime, they were arrested to be hostages, it's just painfully obvious. ... It was just a total abuse of authority."
The sheriff's department declined to comment Monday, citing its policy of not discussing pending litigation.
But the three women say they were subjected to accusations that they knew where Saterfield was and refused to help detectives find him, something they say was not true.
"I was called a liar, and I said how was I a liar when I don't know anything," said Elizabeth Basquez-Procter, Saterfeld's 26-year-old half-sister, who said she willingly let detectives search her home but then was handcuffed and threatened by a sheriff's detective about losing custody of her 3-year-old son.
"He kept going on to say that if I didn’t tell him anything he was going to call CPS and take my son away and I'd never see him again," she said.
Saterfield's mother, Angelina Reynolds, 42, and his grandmother, Anita Garcia Lopez, 62, both told similar stories, saying all three of them eventually were handcuffed and placed into two unmarked vans after they told detectives they did not know where Saterfield was.
The three say they then were driven to the parking lot of a bowling alley, where they were transferred to sheriff's vehicles as part of what they believe was an effort to spread the word they were in custody and induce Saterfield to surrender.
Saterfield's grandmother says she was held in custody for three days, finally winning release on Mother's Day evening, when her husband posted her $100,000 bail. The other two women say they were held for a total of five days, even after Saterfield had surrendered to authorities days earlier.
The three were told they were being held on charges of being accessories to a homicide after the fact, the lawsuit says, but that upon their release they were presented with sheriff's department certificates informing them that they had not actually been arrested. Instead, the certificate explained, they had been "detained" and any records saying they faced arrest would be deleted.
"The law requires that if someone is arrested and no criminal charges are filed they have to give you one of these certificates," Katz said, adding that the five days two of the women served was the maximum allowed before they must be released or face charges.
The lawsuit also claims that detectives searched the contents of their cell phones "hours prior to obtaining a search warrant."
The suit alleges the three were subjected to false arrest, hostage taking, warrantless searches and unreasonable seizure.
While the three women were being held, Saterfield's attorney was arranging for him to surrender to authorities at the sheriff's department on May 15, 2017, a Monday morning, the lawsuit says. Instead, he called the department two days earlier on a Saturday and told them he would surrender that day at the Regional Transit light rail station at 65th Street, a location he chose because he knew video cameras at the station would record his arrest, the suit says.
"The deputies' strategy of holding his female relatives hostage apparently had the desired impact of accelerating (Saterfield's) surrender as he turned himself in two days earlier than planned," the suit says.
Saterfield, now 22, remains in jail without bail pending a June 29 preliminary hearing in Sacramento Superior Court. Another man charged in the slayings, Hieu Van Hoang, 21, also remains in custody.