By Kim Minugh and Anne Gonzales
The man accused in this week's brutal triple homicide in Rancho Cordova was formally charged today with three counts of murder, with the special circumstance that multiple murders were committed.
Grigoriy Bukhantsov, 19, appeared before Sacramento Superior Court Judge John P. Winn in a cage crowded with four Sacramento County sheriff's deputies. He was assigned a public defender.
Prosecutors allege he used a knife to kill his sister-in-law, 23-year-old Alina Bukhantsov, and her two toddlers, 3-year-old Emmanuela and 2-year-old Avenir on Tuesday. They have not yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty in the case, said Steve Grippi, assistant chief district attorney.
According to the Sacramento County Coroner's Office, Alina and Avenir suffered stab wounds to the neck and torso and Emmanuela suffered stab wounds to the chest.
Grigoriy Bukhantsov's brother, Denis, discovered the bodies in the family's De Soto Way duplex that afternoon.
John Perkins, supervising public defender, said his client is "confused" and "very distraught" but appears to understand the charges. He noted that his client is being held in the jail's psychiatric ward, which is a "very confusing" place to be.
As for his client's mental health, he said that will be looked into further.
Perkins said the case is a "tragedy for everyone" involved.
"We'll investigate everything involved in the case very vigorously," Perkins said.
According to investigators and family members, Denis Bukhantsov left the home Tuesday morning to attend school and returned home in the afternoon to find the bloodied bodies of his wife and two children. The couple's youngest child, 6-month-old Mark, was found unharmed in a back room.
At a press conference yesterday, Denis said it was "hard to understand" how his brother could be involved in the attacks on his wife and children.
Gregoriy Bukhantsov's parents sought a restraining order against their troubled son last year, saying he had violent fits of rage and physically assaulted them.
On one occasion in August 2011, according to the records, Grigoriy allegedly threatened to kill his family "like Soltys did," referring to Sacramento serial killer Nikolay Soltys, a Ukrainian immigrant who killed six family members in 2001, including his pregnant wife and 3-year-old son.
Soltys hung himself in his Sacramento County Jail cell in February 2002.
PHOTO: Grigoriy Bukhantsov, 19, stands before Judge John P. Whin in the Sacramento County Main Jail on Friday, October 26, 2012 as he is arraigned on the alleged murders of his sister-in-law and niece and nephew on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012. Hector Amezcuafirstname.lastname@example.org