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Do phrases make you a assassin? The case in opposition to Brandon Pettit


[This story first aired on May 15, 2021.]

The morning of August 8, 2013 had began out stuffed with promise for then-28-year-old Lauren Pettit, who was residing in Los Angeles.

Lauren Pettit: I keep in mind I had texted one among my finest associates that morning, “As we speak’s gonna be day.”

What she did not know was that 300 miles away in Modesto, California, firefighters had been known as to her dad and mom’ house at 3 a.m. Their bed room had gone up in flames. Lauren’s dad and mom, Scott and Janet Pettit, had been discovered useless inside.

Pettit fire
Firefighters had been known as to the Pettit household house in Modesto, California, at 3 a.m. on August 8, 2013. Neighbors known as 911 after seeing hearth popping out of an upstairs window.

Stanislaus County Superior Courtroom


Erin Moriarty: How would you describe your mother and pa?

Lauren Pettit: [starts to cry]

Erin Moriarty: You actually miss them, do not you?

Lauren Pettit: [crying] They had been superb.

Two of the household’s canines additionally did not make it. However one, Bailey, survived.

Erin Moriarty: Is it form of a miracle she’s even right here?

Lauren Pettit [holding Bailey on her lap]: It is insane. Uh-huh.

Erin Moriarty: Bailey means lots to you now.

Lauren Pettit: Every thing. She’s, like, my lifeline.

Mike Anderson, a detailed good friend of the household, had arrived on the scene after getting a name that one thing horrible had occurred.

Mike Anderson: After I turned onto Scott and Janet’s avenue, there was hearth vans, ambulances. … And, so, my coronary heart sank.

Mike Anderson: I wish to say it is like shedding an arm or one thing. You lose part of your soul, part of your physique. And that is what it felt like. This cannot be taking place. … But it surely was.

Scott and Janet Pettit
“The neighborhood misplaced two people who did extra for his or her communities than lots of of individuals will ever do,” good friend Mike Anderson says of Scott and Janet Pettit.

Lauren Pettit


And issues solely received worse. Investigators quickly decided the hearth was no accident. Scott and Janet had been shot — a complete of seven occasions, and proof of an accelerant was discovered all through their upstairs room.

KOVR NEWS REPORT: Greater than 12 hours after firefighters made the grotesque discovery, police investigators stay sifting via clues in what they’re now calling a pair of suspicious deaths.

Mike Anderson: The neighborhood misplaced two people who did extra for his or her communities than lots of of individuals will ever do.

Scott was an avid automobile collector and proprietor of a martial arts studio in close by Riverbank. The native paper as soon as known as him “Citizen of the Yr.” Janet, a neonatal nurse, had lately earned her PhD.

Erin Moriarty: When you concentrate on your mother, what involves thoughts?

Lauren Pettit: She was simply unimaginable. You realize, very caring and selfless. … My dad was very sarcastic. Very witty. … Cherished to provide again, cherished to assist everybody.

The couple had been of their late 20s after they first met. Scott was working as a paramedic then.

Lauren Pettit: I consider the story is … he was bringing a child in from the ambulance. And she or he was the receiving — one of many receiving nurses.

The 2 would later marry and begin a household. Lauren was 2 years previous when her brother Brandon was born, and the household was full.

Erin Moriarty [looking at a photo album and reading the captions]: Your mother writes, “Lauren was so excited to have her child brother house.” … You do look very joyful to have slightly brother. … First kiss from an enormous sister.

Lauren Pettit: Aww … I believe I assumed I had a brand new toy [laughs].

Rising up, Lauren says Brandon cherished enjoying pranks on folks. However when it got here to profession aspirations, that was one thing he was critical about.

Erin Moriarty: What did he wanna do?

Lauren Pettit: He actually loved, like, firefighting … I assume simply, like, serving to folks in a roundabout way, form or kind, police power, issues like that.

She says Brandon was good however struggled socially.

Erin Moriarty: Do you keep in mind how previous you had been once you observed any distinction with Brandon? Once you began realizing that he wasn’t fairly like everyone else’s little brother?

Lauren Pettit: Early childhood, positively. I’d s—beneath the age of 10, for certain. Perhaps, like, 7-ish.

Erin Moriarty: What do you suppose you first observed?

Lauren Pettit: Him being actually cussed and disobedient in a way.

And, she says, he had bother making associates.

Lauren Pettit: You realize he was nearly seemed down upon or checked out as if he — simply did not slot in. And that was exhausting. 

Erin Moriarty: Was he lonely?

Lauren Pettit: I am certain.

So lonely, says Lauren, that he would inform tales and make issues up simply to get consideration.

Lauren Pettit: I do not suppose he ever thought that he was telling a narrative or mendacity. It was simply, … I can do that. Or I can try this. Or, , I can get this. And, like, OK. Let’s come again right down to earth. And, like, let’s … determine whether or not or not it is actuality.

Pettit family
Lauren, Janet, Scott and Brandon Pettit.

Lauren Pettit


Scott and Janet had lengthy been conscious of Brandon’s struggles. They took him to see quite a few specialists. When Brandon was in highschool, he was identified with Asperger’s, a developmental dysfunction affecting his capacity to speak and, at occasions, learn social cues. Now, Asperger’s falls beneath autism spectrum dysfunction.

Lauren Pettit: With Asperger’s, I believe it is actually tough for him … to concentrate on how he is presenting himself and what he is saying and the way he is saying issues and the way he is reacting to sure issues or not reacting and whether or not or not he is doing what—folks would think about the norm.

So, when Lauren known as Brandon, then 25, shortly after they each realized of their dad and mom’ deaths, his uncommon response, she says, was common for him.

Erin Moriarty: How was he coping with it?

Lauren Pettit: In his regular method which is, , very impassive … When he is — unhappy, kinda simply retains all of it in.

But it surely was a purple flag to police who quickly zeroed in on Brandon. The day after the murders, earlier than Lauren even received to see him, Brandon ended up in a police interrogation room for 9-and-a-half hours.

Erin Moriarty: And he went together with it.

Lauren Pettit: Mm hmm.

Erin Moriarty: And why do you suppose he was so keen to speak to the police?

Lauren Pettit: Most likely the identical purpose I used to be, like, simply wanting solutions

Brandon was once more known as in for questioning simply over per week after the murders. Lauren drove him to the station.

Erin Moriarty: Did the investigators offer you any thought … that your brother was a suspect?

Lauren Pettit: Uh-uh. [shaking her head no.]

Erin Moriarty: He was by then, wasn’t he?

Lauren Pettit: Uh-huh. [nodding to affirm]

Erin Moriarty: If you happen to had recognized what was occurring, for those who had any thought your brother was a suspect, would you will have taken him over there so willingly?

Lauren Pettit: I would not have taken him there, interval. We’d have had an legal professional.

After practically 4 hours, police arrested Brandon for the homicide of his dad and mom.

Lauren Pettit: I believe I misplaced my voice and my breath for slightly bit—was like, “What? Why?”

UNDER ARREST

Simply over per week after all of a sudden shedding her dad and mom, Lauren now needed to take care of the information that her brother had been arrested and charged with the murders.

Lauren Pettit: I believe I simply began to hyperventilate and was like I do not even know what is going on on.

Along with Brandon, a person named Felix Valverde had additionally been arrested and charged. Lauren had by no means heard of Felix Valverde, however Brandon and Felix had been each members of a gaggle known as the Clampers – a greater than century previous fraternal group devoted to the historic preservation of the American West. However Clampers are additionally recognized for having fun with getting collectively to drink.

Brandon Pettit and Felix Valverde
Brandon Pettit, left, and Felix Valverde had been arrested and charged for the murders of Scott and Janet Pettit.

Modesto Police Division


Lauren Pettit: I believe his—the one purpose he was part of that was as a result of he thought they — he thought he would have associates.

Erin Moriarty: Did your dad and mom ever specific concern about any of those people who your brother is perhaps hanging out with?

Lauren Pettit: Uh-uh. I might by no means heard about them.

Brandon was staying at his dad and mom’ home, however on the evening of the hearth, he was out working the graveyard shift as a safety guard.

Erin Moriarty: And there are individuals who can say he was there.

Lauren Pettit: Yup. He has an alibi, his boss or his superior confirmed he was there.

However his alibi did not appear to matter to investigators. They believed that Brandon paid Felix to commit the murders. The alleged motive? To inherit his dad and mom’ cash. However Lauren could not make sense of it. She says Brandon cherished their dad and mom and really benefited extra with their dad and mom alive.

Lauren Pettit
Lauren Pettit strongly believes that her brother is harmless. She says Brandon cherished their dad and mom and there is no purpose he would have wished them useless.

CBS Information


Lauren Pettit: They paid his payments. … My brother did not even know the worth of a greenback.

Erin Moriarty: If something occurred to your dad and mom, was your brother going to inherit something?

Lauren Pettit: Not that he knew of, not that I knew of both.

Police first started Felix after Brandon— in his first interview with police — talked about different associates, however curiously failed to say Felix. That led to a search of Felix’s house the place their suspicions paid off. They discovered keys to the Pettit house, Scott and Janet’s wallets, a field of ammunition, and 7 spent shell-casings hid in a planter exterior — vital as a result of Brandon’s dad and mom had been shot a complete of seven occasions. Hours later, police known as Brandon in for that second taped interview and confronted him:

DETECTIVE 1: How would he provide you with the keys to kill your dad and mom?

BRANDON PETTIT: I do not know.

DETECTIVE 1: You realize why? Trigger you gave ’em to him.

BRANDON PETTIT: I did not give him s —.

However the detective advised Brandon that Felix was telling a special story:

DETECTIVE 1: Felix says you gave him the keys and the keys each match the storage door and the entrance door, Brandon. If you happen to suppose for a minute that anyone, anyone is gonna consider your story, together with your sister, you are mistaken.

DETECTIVE 1: You realize what the factor about Felix is, that you simply’re not that makes him extra plausible? He is remorseful.

BRANDON PETTIT: What do you imply, remorseful? What the hell does that imply?

DETECTIVE 1: He is sorry he did it.

The detective additionally advised Brandon that he had cellphone information exhibiting that Brandon and Felix spoke the evening of the murders:

DETECTIVE 1: What was that about?

BRANDON PETTIT: On my break, I used to be asking him what we had been doing for the weekend.

Regardless of the strain, Brandon repeatedly denied having something to do with the deaths of his dad and mom:

BRANDON PETTIT: I do not know who killed my dad and mom.

DETECTIVE 1: Sure, you do.

BRANDON PETTIT: No, I do not.

DETECTIVE 1: Sure, you do.

BRANDON PETTIT: No.

DETECTIVE 1:  Sure.

BRANDON PETTIT: No.

pettit-interrogation.jpg
Brandon Pettit repeatedly denied having something to do with the deaths of his dad and mom: In his second interview with police, Brandon made incriminating admissions. He stated that he gave Felix bullets someday within the weeks main as much as the murders.  

Stanislaus County Superior Courtroom


However in that second interview, Brandon made incriminating admissions. Brandon stated that he gave Felix bullets someday within the weeks main as much as the murders:

BRANDON PETTIT: He had requested me for the field of bullets that I had as a result of my .22 hasn’t been fired in two years as a result of I haven’t got a bolt for it.

And, he admitted giving Felix $100 simply days after the murders. However probably the most jaw-dropping a part of Brandon’s story was when he advised detectives that a few month earlier than the hearth, Felix had threatened to kill Brandon’s dad and mom — except Brandon paid him $10,000.

DETECTIVE 2: And you have not advised us one thing that’s this necessary, and also you’re telling us now?

BRANDON PETTIT: I am remembering lots now.

DETECTIVE 2: You realize what? Bulls—! Bulls—!

DETECTIVE 1:  And the place’d you go? Did you go to the police station?

BRANDON PETTIT: No, I went again to my dad and mom’ home and advised my dad.

DETECTIVE 1:  Why did not you go to the police station?

BRANDON PETTIT: I do not know.

DETECTIVE 1:  As an alternative, you give him a field of bullets?

BRANDON PETTIT: Yeah, I may see that was a nasty thought.

DETECTIVE:  That was a nasty thought. That is a nasty excuse and that is a fair worse lie.

Even when it was the reality, why would Brandon wait 9 days after the murders to inform all of them of this?

DETECTIVE 1:  Why?

BRANDON PETTIT: I did not wish to discuss to anyone.

DETECTIVE 1:  Did you not need us to resolve that crime?

BRANDON PETTIT: I wished to do it myself.

DETECTIVE 2: Oh wow, there is a new one!

DETECTIVE 1:  What did you do?

BRANDON PETTIT: I wished to search out out who did it myself.

And extra damaging, why did Brandon stay pleasant with Felix— not solely after the risk was made, however even after Brandon’s dad and mom wound up useless?

DETECTIVE 1:   So, he tells you that he is gonna kill your dad and mom, you give him ammunition and then you definitely give him 100 bucks.

BRANDON PETTIT: He stated he had paid his payments and wanted some cash. I had 100 bucks, so I figured I might assist him out till he received paid.

DETECTIVE 2: To the man that simply was threatening to kill your dad and mom for those who did not pay him cash, you are serving to him out. Matter of reality, you are hanging out with him afterwards all buddy, buddy.

BRANDON PETTIT: I did not consider he would truly do it.

Investigators had been satisfied that Brandon was the mastermind behind his dad and mom’ deaths, however Martha Carlton-Magana, an legal professional appointed to signify Brandon after his arrest, says the interview proves nothing.

Martha Carlton-Magana: He did not have something to do with it. He does not know what occurred.

She says detectives weren’t within the reality, they usually lied to Brandon after they advised him that Felix had already confessed.

Martha Carlton-Magana: They’ve already determined he is a suspect. They usually’re actually attempting to feed him numerous data in order that he’ll regurgitate it again.

She says the detectives knew Brandon had Asperger’s …

DETECTIVE 1:  And this entire Asperger’s factor. I am not shopping for that both.

 … and suggests they mishandled the interview.

Erin Moriarty: Do you consider they had been benefiting from his situation?

Martha Carlton-Magana: I believe they had been doing what they all the time do. And due to Brandon’s situation, he was extra weak to that form of interrogation … Every thing in that second interview must be taken with a grain of salt.

Lauren agrees, and firmly believes her brother is harmless.

Lauren Pettit: He actually is an efficient individual.

Erin Moriarty: Does this appear in any respect in your brother’s character to have your dad and mom killed?

Lauren Pettit: In no way.

However Brandon’s statements in that interview would not be the one hurdle that his protection must overcome. A younger lady by the title of Sarah Wilson had surfaced. Within the weeks main as much as the murders, she says Brandon had been promising her the world — issues that solely cash may purchase.

“A BOOB JOB FOR CHRISTMAS”

Sarah Wilson and Brandon Pettit met after they had been in highschool, however Sarah says they reconnected on-line in the summertime of 2013, shortly earlier than the murders.

Sarah Wilson: We received to speaking, seeing how we had been doing all through the years.

Brandon had simply gone via a messy breakup with a girl named Susan Sanchez. Susan was pregnant with Brandon’s little one.

Erin Moriarty: How did your brother really feel about changing into a dad?

Lauren Pettit: Very excited. … Household was every little thing to him. So.

However together with his relationship with Susan over, Brandon was apparently able to shift his consideration to somebody new.

Sarah Wilson: I had some inclinations that he had slightly crush on me. However I did not pursue something with him. I did not give him any hints that I used to be drawn to him in that approach.

That did not appear to discourage Brandon, who ended up making her a suggestion she says she could not refuse.

Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson wanting on-line at pictures of the mansions in Georgia she says Brandon Pettit despatched her.

CBS Information


Sarah Wilson: He had talked about that his dad and mom had been going to purchase him a million-dollar house in Georgia. And he stated that I can transfer in with him.

Sarah Wilson I — in fact stated sure. Who would not wish to reside in a million-dollar house?

Sarah Wilson: I used to be going via numerous stuff in my private life. I simply actually wished to get out of California.

As attractive because it all was, Sarah suspected it is perhaps too good to be true.

Sarah Wilson:  I took it with a grain of salt. I did not suppose it was actually going to occur.

However Sarah says Brandon would ship her actual property listings each day.

Sarah Wilson: Oh, the homes had a bathe the dimensions of my bed room now. They had been simply attractive.

And he confirmed her the e-mail dialog he was having with a realtor.

Sarah Wilson: Which form of made me suppose, OK, that is actually going to occur.

And the guarantees did not cease there.

Sarah Wilson: He at some point talked about that, oh, my mother, seeing how joyful I’m, how excited I’m to be transferring with you, that after we transfer, she’s going to open a boutique so that you can run your self.

Sarah Wilson: I did discover it form of unusual that his dad and mom would … spend this amount of cash on a enterprise for me once I had by no means met them.

Sarah says she thought she’d lastly meet them since Brandon advised her his dad and mom had purchased airplane tickets to take all of them to Atlanta to take a look at properties. However a few days earlier than that supposed journey, Sarah obtained a wierd textual content from Brandon.

Sarah Wilson: I received a textual content out of nowhere from Brandon saying, “You are getting a boob job for Christmas, LOL.”

The textual content got here in at 10:43 p.m. on August 7.  Just some hours later, Brandon’s dad and mom had been found useless. He delivered the information to Sarah the following morning.

Sarah Wilson: I received a textual content from Brandon saying, “My dad and mom died final evening in a home hearth.” … I did not press him for any data. I simply figured that is a sensitive topic. His dad and mom had simply died.

On August 9, after Brandon’s first interview with detectives, Sarah says he known as her, they usually met up.

Sarah Wilson: He advised me that his aunt had cancelled the flight tickets they usually simply wish to preserve that beneath wraps, so do not inform the detectives that. I assumed that was very odd. … That is once I began to suppose, , one thing’s form of bizarre.

Sarah would later be taught there have been no airline tickets, no journey to Georgia deliberate, and Brandon’s dad and mom did not die in a home hearth; they had been murdered. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than detectives confirmed up at her door.

Sarah Wilson: They simply began asking me questions on Brandon

She advised them every little thing about these million-dollar properties, the supposed journey to Georgia, and the textual content Brandon despatched promising her a breast enhancement simply hours earlier than his dad and mom had been killed. For police, it amounted to a monetary motive for homicide. However Lauren Pettit believes it truly quantities to nothing.

Erin Moriarty: Do you consider your brother actually advised her these issues?

Lauren Pettit: Probably. … However … I imply, that was simply who my brother was.

Brandon’s protection legal professional agrees and says Brandon’s conversations with Sarah should not be given a lot weight in any respect.

Martha Carlton-Magana: That was a fantasy he was enjoying out with a girlfriend to impress her, which he’d all the time achieved.

Erin Moriarty: Brandon truly known as a realtor and really … pinpointed some homes. Is it attainable … that Brandon determined he was going to make that fantasy come true — and killed his dad and mom so he’d have the cash to truly purchase that home?

Martha Carlton-Magana: I do not see that as being practical. I see that as being one thing that Brandon did— in an effort to impress associates.

Erin Moriarty: What concerning the reality, although, proper earlier than his dad and mom died, he had texted Sarah Wilson and stated for Christmas, you are going to get … breast enhancement surgical procedure? Only a coincidence, Martha?

Martha Carlton-Magana: Yeah.

Erin Moriarty: Truthfully?

Martha Carlton-Magana: Yeah, I am undecided it was the primary time he stated it, both.

Erin Moriarty: If any individual may say, , Brandon lies lots. He lies to girlfriends. … You realize, he lies to the police for those who’re proper. How are you aware when to consider Brandon then?

Martha Carlton-Magana: You do not. … Brandon lies lots and really badly. There is not any query about that. So, you do not, you look to the proof.

And exhausting, definitive proof instantly tying Brandon to the homicide of his dad and mom, says Martha, simply is not there.

THE CASE AGAINST BRANDON

Lauren Pettit stood by her brother Brandon as he awaited trial, satisfied of his innocence. However because the case dragged on, she was all too conscious there was a risk she would possibly find yourself shedding him, too.

Lauren and Brandon Pettit
Lauren and Brandon Pettit

Lauren Pettit


Erin Moriarty: It is an enormous burden in your shoulders, is not it?

Lauren Pettit: Uh-huh. … I imply, it is not likely about me anymore … My brother depends upon me.

Erin Moriarty: What do you suppose your dad and mom would need you to do?

Lauren Pettit [crying]: I have to battle for my brother completely, ‘trigger that is what they’d do, however care for myself.

On the four-year anniversary of her dad and mom’ deaths, “48 Hours” was with Lauren as she made the journey to the cemetery.

On that very same day, she visited Brandon in jail, as nicely.

Lauren Pettit [outside jail]: As an alternative of it being face-to-face … it is video visitation. … I see him on a display screen for half-hour.

One courtroom delay after one other, it was seven lengthy years from the time of the murders of Scott and Janet Petitt to when Brandon Petitt’s trial lastly started on September 1, 2020. Cameras weren’t allowed in courtroom. Protection legal professional Robert Winston was now representing Brandon and he was up for the problem.

Robert Winston: I’ve had numerous circumstances over time. … So, the fundamental case wasn’t that uncommon. …The truth that Brandon had … Asperger’s. That put a brand new dimension on the case.

Brandon Pettit and Felix Valverde
Felix Valverde was to be tried alongside Brandon Pettit, however a choose dominated that Valverde was incompetent to face trial.

CBS Information


Brandon was initially presupposed to be tried alongside Felix Valverde, however a few month earlier than the trial, the choose made a uncommon discovering: that Valverde was incompetent to face trial. Which means the person who could have truly achieved the killing is unavailable to the protection.

Erin Moriarty: How can Brandon be placed on trial when the one who police consider truly did the killing is taken into account incompetent?

Robert Winston: That is our legislation.

Erin Moriarty: I imply, is that honest to Brandon?

Robert Winston: Sadly, equity not often enters into it.

Valverde was positioned in psychiatric remedy with the hope that he would possibly be capable of go on trial at a later date. Attributable to Valverde’s still-pending case, the prosecutor’s workplace declined “48 Hours”‘ request for an interview. We requested Mary Fulginiti, a CBS Information advisor and former federal prosecutor, to research the state’s case.

Mary Fulginiti: You need to take a look at the totality of the proof. And as you take a look at the totality of his statements and his actions, I believe it’s extremely tough to say he didn’t plan it. He didn’t plot it. He didn’t need it. He didn’t intend it and he didn’t need it.

Pettit murder evidence
Detectives searched Felix Valverde’s house, the place they discovered a number of items of necessary proof, together with wallets belonging to Scott and Janet Pettit.

Stanislaus County Superior Courtroom


However the bodily proof solely connects Felix Valverde. The prosecution started by calling investigators who detailed all that proof discovered at Felix’s house: Scott and Janet’s wallets, the field of ammunition, these seven spent shell casings, and most necessary, they’d argue, keys to the Pettit house.

Mary Fulginiti: How would Felix come up with the keys to the home? … The keys got to him by Brandon, and that was in order that he may entry the home. So, he may get into the home and kill his dad and mom simply.

The prosecution additionally known as witnesses who knew Felix and testified that he had obtained a brand new gun within the weeks main as much as the murders. That gun, nevertheless, says protection legal professional Robert Winston, was by no means discovered.

Robert Winston: It was a Western-style .22 revolver … We definitely do not know that was the homicide weapon. It wasn’t recovered, do not know the place it’s. … We do not even know if that kind of weapon was in line with the bullet fragments that had been discovered within the our bodies. … There was no exhausting proof of something.

Erin Moriarty: They do not know if a .22 was used to kill the Pettits.

Mary Fulginiti: Nicely, what they do know, although, and that is crucial in a circumstantial proof case — they do know they had been shot seven occasions. … They discovered seven .22 caliber shell casings in a planter exterior of Felix Valverde’s home.

In an effort to instantly tie Brandon to the murders, the prosecution known as Mike Anderson, the Pettits’ shut household good friend. He testified a few dialog he says he had with Brandon just a few months earlier than the murders.

Mike Anderson: He simply advised me “if my dad and mom weren’t right here, my life can be higher.”

Mike says he did not suppose a lot of it on the time, however with Scott and Janet now gone, and Brandon on trial for his or her murders, that remark carried a complete new weight.

Mike Anderson: I felt like I did not assist him. However I needed to inform the reality. It was exhausting. It was unhappy.

And that wasn’t all Mike testified to. He additionally advised the jury that within the days following the murders, Brandon was seeking to promote his dad’s prized vehicles, together with a 1961 Corvette.

Mike Anderson: He wished to promote the [Cor]vette and transfer to Georgia. … It made me really feel very uneasy. It made me query every little thing.

Brandon Pettit
At Brandon Pettit’s trial, prosecutors argued that Brandon’s motive was monetary. They advised the jury that Brandon had hoped to inherit his dad and mom’ life insurance coverage and promote his father’s classic vehicles. Brandon is pictured with Susan Sanchez and his father’s Corvette.

Lauren Pettit


The prosecution additionally known as Susan Sanchez, Brandon’s ex-girlfriend – the mom of his then-6-year-old daughter — who nonetheless had a strained relationship with him. She stated Brandon as soon as talked about that Corvette to her, too.

Mary Fulginiti: He could not anticipate his dad to be useless in order that it might be all his. … And he is additionally advised Susan Sanchez on at the least 5 or 6 events she testified to that he wished his dad and mom useless.

And there was extra. Susan testified she had an ex-husband whom she had talked about to Brandon.

Mary Fulginiti: He stated, “Look, if you wish to make him disappear, I’ve received a good friend, Felix Valverde, who you possibly can pay $500 to … and your ex will disappear.” Coincidences? Too many.

Brandon’s highschool good friend Sarah Wilson additionally took the stand and testified about all these guarantees Brandon had made her, and the lead detective detailed what Brandon had stated in that second interview:

DETECTIVE 1: So, he tells you that he is gonna kill your dad and mom, you give him ammunition and then you definitely give him 100 bucks.

BRANDON PETTIT: He stated he had paid his payments and wanted some cash.

It is a circumstantial case. The strongest proof in opposition to Brandon: his personal phrases and actions earlier than and after the murders.

Erin Moriarty: Has there ever been a second, although, via any of this that you have been questioning possibly my brother did it?

Lauren Pettit: No. However, , I am not going to lie. I am not naïve. … I nonetheless consider that my brother is harmless. But when somebody can show to me that he isn’t with precise proof, not simply phrases, , then it’s what it’s. And I will take care of that.

Mary Fulginiti: Brandon did plan and plot the homicide of his dad and mom. … He wished the Corvette. He wished the home. … He did it for cash.

However would Brandon kill the dad and mom he cherished and leaned on? The protection has to boost doubts with their star witness who is aware of Brandon finest.

Lauren Pettit: You are testifying for somebody you like a lot. And in your head, all you concentrate on is what if I say the mistaken factor.

A SISTER’S FIGHT

Seven years after each of her dad and mom had been murdered, Lauren Pettit took the stand to attempt to save the person accused of killing them: her personal brother, now 32 years previous.

Lauren Pettit: There are such a lot of issues going via your head … and there is no teaching. There is not any nothing. You are simply, right here you go. Good luck.

Protection legal professional Robert Winston wished the jury to see a really totally different aspect of Brandon and his household.

Robert Winston: This was not a household the place there was hatred, there was animosity, that there was a motive to kill. It simply did not exist.

Lauren described how necessary household was to her brother.

Lauren Pettit: It was his entire world.

And the canines who died within the hearth — she says Brandon cherished them, too.

Lauren Pettit: I’ve pictures and movies galore of him together with his canines. … He would skip out on household holidays … simply to remain house and ensure the canines had been secure and OK.

Lauren additionally questioned the alleged monetary motive, telling the jury that her dad and mom had been truly in debt on the time of their dying. And that Corvette that Brandon supposedly wished? She says it was already partially in his title. However maybe probably the most essential a part of her testimony forged doubt on the prosecution’s concept that Felix Valverde received into the Pettit house with home keys that Brandon gave him.

Pettit doggy door
Lauren Pettit’s testimony forged doubt on the prosecution’s concept that Felix Valverde received into the Pettit house with home keys that Brandon gave him. She advised “48 Hours”  her dad and mom had an extra-large sized canine door on their back-sliding glass door that each she and a detective used to enter the house.

Stanislaus County Superior Courtroom


Lauren Pettit: My dad and mom had an extra-large sized canine door on their back-sliding glass door, which is how I had gotten into the home the day after they handed … It is how the detective advised us he had gotten into the home earlier that day and he was a a lot bigger man.

Erin Moriarty: So, the detective himself went via the doggy door?

Robert Winston: Sure.

Erin Moriarty: And that was by no means thought-about as the way in which the killer might need gotten into the home?

Robert Winston: Right.

However then how did Felix get these keys to the Pettit house?

Lauren Pettit: I believe the keys had been in all probability in my dad and mom’ wallets.

Lauren says her dad and mom had digital door locks – the place you punch a code to enter. However within the occasion the battery-powered locks died, she says, her dad and mom stored spare keys tucked inside their wallets, and left these wallets out within the open on the kitchen counter.

Robert Winston: Image it this fashion, Felix Valverde goes to the home. … He crawls in, now he is inside. … He sees a handbag. He sees a pockets. He both thinks I will get these on the way in which out or he picks them up proper then. … Then he goes upstairs, and he does what he does. However when he picked up the pockets of Scott Pettit, it had a key in it. When he picked up the pockets of Janet Pettit, it had a key in it.

Erin Moriarty: If Brandon did not rent Felix, if he did not ask him to kill his dad and mom, why would Felix do it on his personal?

Robert Winston: Two motives. … One, Felix thought there was cash in the home. … The opposite concept is that he heard Brandon say these items about his dad and mom, and he thought … that Brandon can be pleased with him.

However there was one huge downside with the protection’s concept. In a bit of Brandon’s videotaped interview not proven in courtroom, he admitted giving Felix the keys:

BRANDON PETTIT: I understand how he received the keys.

DETECTIVE 1: How?

SERGEANT: You realize? OK, how did he get the keys?

BRANDON PETTIT: I received the keys. I by no means supposed him to truly do something. … He was presupposed to scare ’em. Not damage them.

It was an admission that might destroy his protection. Brandon truly admitted that he despatched Felix to his house to persuade his dad and mom to cease contacting his ex-girlfriend, Susan. However as a result of Brandon stated it after he had requested for a lawyer, the choose did not enable it in as proof and as dangerous because it sounds, protection legal professional Robert Winston claims that Brandon made it up in an effort to finish the interrogation.

Robert Winston: It appeared as if Brandon was saying, I will inform you something you wish to hear, simply let me out of right here.

Winston was decided to point out the jury why they should not consider a lot of what Brandon stated. He known as Dr. Laura Geiger, a scientific psychologist appointed by the courtroom, who testified that Brandon’s Asperger’s may clarify his questionable statements and conduct.

Erin Moriarty: Dr. Geiger — does she consider that Brandon’s Asperger’s — autism interfered in that police interview to his detriment?

Robert Winston: Completely.

Robert Winston: Individuals with autism take data in otherwise than we do. … So, when the police ask a query, there’s all the time the concern, is it actually understood?

Winston was feeling optimistic when, after 9 days of testimony from 23 witnesses, the case went to the jury. Deliberations stretched on for a few day-and-a-half after which, a verdict: responsible. “48 Hours”‘ cameras caught a glimpse of Brandon as he was led out of the courtroom.

Brandon Pettit
In September 2020, Brandon Pettit was discovered responsible of the homicide of his dad and mom. He was sentenced to 2 life phrases with out the potential of parole. Felix Valverde has pleaded not responsible and has but to go on trial.

CBS Information


Erin Moriarty: How did your brother react to the decision?

Lauren Pettit: He was shocked after which actually scared.

Erin Moriarty: Afraid of what?

Lauren Pettit: His future. 

4 months later, Brandon was given the utmost sentence: two life phrases with out the potential of parole. Lauren was devastated.

Robert Winston: It was exhausting to not really feel paternal in direction of her …

Erin Moriarty: She’s misplaced every little thing, hasn’t she?

Robert Winston: Actually, sure. She has.

Lauren stays satisfied her brother is harmless. She hopes at some point Felix Valverde will go on trial and possibly then, she’ll get the solutions she’s in search of.

Erin Moriarty: Do you suppose Felix Valverde killed your dad and mom?

Lauren Pettit: I believe he in all probability had one thing to do with it.

Felix has pleaded not responsible and his attorneys declined “48 Hours”‘ request for an interview.

As Lauren begins to choose up the items, she sadly not has her canine Bailey to consolation her. He handed away in 2019. Now, a brand new good friend – Jelly – helps to place a smile again on her face. And but nothing and nobody will ever fill that void left by the lack of her as soon as close-knit household.

The Pettit family
Scott, Lauren, Janet and Brandon Pettit

Lauren Pettit


Erin Moriarty: What do you miss probably the most about your dad and mom?

Lauren Pettit [crying]: Every thing. … My dad’s jokes … My mother tirelessly working to, , make certain I am OK.  … I’d give something to have them again.

Brandon has written Sarah Wilson a number of occasions from jail insisting he’s harmless.

She says she has by no means responded.


Produced by Stephanie Slifer.  Michelle Fanucci and Gayane Keshishyan Mendez are the event producers. Emma Steele and Addison Briley are the affiliate producers. Atticus Brady, Marlon Disla and George Baluzy are the editors. Lourdes Aguiar is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.



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