The attorney representing a Eureka Springs hog hunter charged with murder wants to suppress comments his client made to police the night he was arrested.
A Carroll County Sheriff ’s Office deputy questioned Christopher Kevin Butler before reading him his Miranda rights, and later investigators kept questioning Butler after he requested a lawyer, according to a motion filed Friday in Carroll County Circuit Court.
“There should not have been an effort to resuscitate the conversation,” wrote Joseph D. Tobler of Little Rock, a public defender representing Butler.
Butler, 43, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the Feb. 19 shooting death of John Catlin Keck, 30.
Butler told police he shot Keck in self-defense, according to a probable cause affidavit. Butler said he thought he heard Keck rack a shell into the chamber of a pistol. Butler said he then thought he saw Keck point the gun in his direction.
“I felt like if I didn’t pull the trigger, I was going to die,” Butler told police.
Both men lived in Eureka Springs. Butler told police he didn’t know Keck.
Butler thought Keck was trespassing on his hog-hunting territory in rural Carroll County, according to the affidavit. Butler had permission to hunt there, but he didn’t own the land.
Butler blocked a “wallow road” with his Jeep and hid in the bushes with an AR-15-style rifle until a Dodge Dakota pickup approached, according to the affidavit.
When Keck got out of the pickup and got into Butler’s Jeep to move it, the two men exchanged words before Butler fired three shots, hitting Keck at least once, according to the affidavit.
Butler is accused of planting a P90 Ruger .45-caliber pistol in the floorboard of the Jeep after shooting Keck, according to the affidavit. Butler was also charged with tampering with evidence.
In Tobler’s motion Friday, he wrote Deputy Janet Galland “questioned Butler shortly after his arrest without advising him of his Miranda rights.” Galland no longer works for the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the motion, Butler told Sheriff ’s Office investigator Jerry Williams, “I’m at the point now to where maybe I should stop talking and get a lawyer.”
But Williams continued to ask Butler questions to “cajole him into continuing the interview,” Tobler wrote.
Williams asked whether Butler was invoking his right to counsel, and Butler said, “I’m not yet,” according to Tobler’s motion. So Williams and investigator David Deatherage continued the interview.
“The investigators should have honored Butler’s constitutional right by ending the interview and walking out,” wrote Tobler. “It’s clear that Mr. Butler wanted help from an attorney.”
It was late in the interview when Butler told police he placed a pistol in the Jeep after shooting Keck, according to the affidavit. When asked why he put the pistol there, Butler said “cause I was scared … I thought if that ol’ boy didn’t have a gun, then I’d be charged for murder.”
Butler is scheduled for an omnibus hearing July 18. A trial date hasn’t been set.
Print Headline: Murder case lawyer says rights violated