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Police: Man charged in slaying said he thought son fired at him


Police: Man charged in slaying said he thought son fired at him

June 20, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

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BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — A Morgan County, W.Va., man charged with murder in the death of his 13-year-old son “immediately shot his son in the head” Saturday evening at the family’s home in eastern Morgan County after the man believed the boy was shooting at him, according to court papers.

William Alan Butler, 73, instructed his son on how to shoot a gun, according to a criminal complaint filed by Deputy 1st Class C.H. Cobern of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department.

The boy was identified Monday as Andrew Arthur Butler by Chief Deputy Tony Link.

William Alan Butler told authorities that he was about five feet from his son at their home at 1720 Fulton Road while showing the boy where to shoot, according to the complaint.

“The defendant stated that he heard a gunshot and just knew his son was shooting at him, so he turned around and immediately shot his son in the head,” Cobern said in his complaint.

Butler stated that “his son was always in trouble and (Butler) hated how he always defied his mother,” according to Cobern’s complaint.

The boy, who died at the home, was found lying on a patio at the back of the house, Link said Sunday.

Cobern said in his complaint that he talked to the boy’s sister about the shooting.

The 12-year-old girl said she was on a computer when she heard a gunshot, according to Cobern’s complaint.

“She knew that the defendant and the victim were out back behind the house with weapons, so she didn’t think anything of the situation. About 10 seconds later, she states she heard another shot and looked outside to see her brother (lying) on the ground with blood coming from his head,” Cobern said in his complaint.

An autopsy was performed on the boy Monday at a state medical examiner’s office in Morgantown, W.Va., and the autopsy determined that the boy was shot from five feet to eight feet away, Link said late Monday afternoon.

No bullet was found in the boy’s head, leading police to believe it went through the boy’s head, Link said.

Police were unable to find the bullet at the scene, Link said.

Cobern said in his complaint that Butler described the circumstances two ways.

Link said in a telephone interview Monday that in one version, Butler said he told his son to shoot at a woodpile.

In a different account, Butler said he showed his son where the woodpile was, Link said.

Butler was being held without bond Monday afternoon at the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, W.Va.

Link said Monday that a preliminary hearing will have to be held for Butler within about eight days. He said police still do not know what type of gun caused the boy’s injury.

A 9 mm automatic handgun and a .38-caliber revolver were found at the scene. Butler moved the guns after the shooting, Link said.

Link said Sunday that he hopes fingerprint testing will help investigators determine which gun was used.

2011 Jun 20