Gulf County Man Sentenced to 28 Years in Prison

By: Cameron Taylor Email
By: Cameron Taylor Email
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A Port St. Joe man speaks to the family of the man he's convicted of killing, just before he's sentenced to prison Thursday.

Attorneys for 61 year old Walton Henry Butler tried to use the Stand Your Ground law to justify the shooting. A jury wasn't convinced and found Butler guilty of second degree murder last month.

Circuit judge John Fishel decided Walton Butler would face more than two decades in prison, but before that happened, Butler apologized publicly to the victim's family.

"I liked Everett. I liked Everett a lot and i just wanted to make it perfectly clear that i did not intentionally kill the boy. I just want Mr. and Mrs. Gant to know that," said Butler.

Walton Butler's public apology is the first NewsChannel 7 heard from him since he didn't testify during last month's trial. The big issue attorneys focused on was whether Butler was acting in self defense.

In July of 2012, law enforcement officials say 32 year old Everett Gant went to Butler's apartment to ask him to stop using racial slurs around children in the neighborhood.

Investigators say Gant knocked on the door, then butler shot him with a .22 caliber rifle. He died about a month later.

Jurors ultimately found him guilty of second degree murder. During Thursday's sentencing, prosecutors argued for a life sentence, while defense attorneys asked for the minimum.

"We would request that you sentence him toward the lower end of the sentencing range, 25 years, preferably so that he'd have some hope of perhaps getting out at his advanced age to spend a little time with his son before he passes away," said Mark Sims, a defense attorney.

Prosecutors then issued a statement from the victim's family.

"He heard a lot of testimony about how big Everett was during the trial and he just wanted the court to know that when he brought Everett home from the hospital, he was only four pounds and he brought him home on a pillow," said Robert Sombathy, the prosecutor in the case.

"I know how hard it is to lose a son and I'd also like to say that I did not deliberately shoot Everett and kill him," said Butler.

Circuit judge John Fishel sentenced Butler to 28 years in prison.

His attorney, Mark Sims, tells NewsChannel 7 he will be filing an appeal in the next 30 days.

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