21 September 2020 | Heidi Butler, 38, until recently an employee of Adventist Health Sonora, is in custody after being accused of a murder-for-hire plot.
The Union-Democrat reported Butler was allegedly targeting her husband. Her attorney argues that Butler suffered a mental health breakdown due to her high-pressure front-line role as a nurse.
Butler was lead intensive care unit nurse at the Sonora, California-based Adventist hospital.
Tuolumne County Public Defender Scott Gross filed a motion last Thursday in which he said Butler sabotaged herself to escape massive work pressure and the task of raising four young children, along with a relationship with her husband that has suffered recently.
Following a tip from the FBI, the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant and arrested Butler the night of September 11.
She was charged with one felony count of solicitation of murder, to which she pleaded not guilty last Wendesday at Tuolumne County Superior Court.
Butler’s attorney argued his client is “an excellent candidate for mental health diversion,” mental health treatment given to defendants in certain situations.
“We request she be released,” Gross said in his motion, according to the Union-Democrat, “and attend psychiatric mental health counseling as a part of a release.”
Gross added Butler’s husband said he wanted to get her help and requested that she be allowed to stay at home.
The motion claims the triggering event for the breakdown was marriage trouble but that the couple “had finally reconciled their differences and were having a wonderful evening when she was taken into custody.”
The motion claims Butler loves her husband and “this extreme incident is so out of character for her she is seeking professional psychiatric help” while in custody.
Butler has confirmed that she has lost her job at Adventist Health Sonora.
Image: Heidi Butler
(credit: Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office)