Brenton Lenard Butler was charged with murder and armed robbery in the death of MaryAnn Stephens, of Toccoa, GA. At age 15 Brenton Butler, Could have faced life in prison without Parole if he was convicted of first -degree murder. In Florida nobody the age of sixteen or younger can face the death penalty. MaryAnn Stephens was shot while she and her husband, James, were returning to their room from a continental breakfast in the motel lobby, said Lt. Mark Foxworth, who leads the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office homicide unit. Brenton Butler was picked up walking in the area about two hours after the shooting.
He lived in the 6000 block of Chevy Drive, within walking distance of the motel, said Sgt. Andy Joiner of the homicide unit. The eyewitness identification of Brenton Butler was erroneous because the psychological trauma that James Stephen went through. Mistakes were made in the investigation of the crime. Brenton Butler arrest was a case of mistaken identity. Mr. Stephens stated he was sure that Brenton Butler was the guy who shot his wife. There were no other witnesses. James Stephen said to the court he recognized his face, build and in particular his “skinny legs”.
Officer T. L. Martin of the Jacksonville sheriff’s office said in court that he stopped Brenton Butler and told him that a murder had taken place and he asked will Brenton be willing to talk to detectives. Brenton Butler agreed to talk to detectives. Brenton was given a gunshot residue test. Deborah Lightfoot, a crime lab analyst with the Florida Department of law Enforcement in Orlando, testified that she did not detect any gunshot residue on the test of Brenton’s hands. Mr. Stephens testified in the courtroom he wasn’t sure of what he actually seen the day of the murder.
And that’s why his statement was not accurate. Brenton Butler‘s confession should have been suppressed because of the interrogation which forced him to admit to a murder that he has no connections with. Both of the detectives that were assigned to the case were accused of interrogation of Butler. It was the police officer who failed to test the items that were in the victim’s purse. The officers also failed to contact Brentons parents to tell them their son was in custody, even after they had filed a missing person report.
There wasn’t enough evidence to charge Brenton with the murder of MaryAnn Stephens. Law enforcement did not handle the case with accuracy. Although Butler served six months in jail waiting upon trail, Brenton still maintained his innocence. I concluded that police officers and the prosecutorial misconduct play a major role in which investigations leading to wrongful convictions and unsafe streets. Most criminal cases brought to trail are adequate. Nevertheless most arrest that is made by officials is wrongfully made and can lead to wrongful convictions.
Police and prosecutors have a job that mainly is based on accuracy but in some cases there is not enough evidence to charge a person but officials still try to get an “offender” to Plead Guilty; even when innocent. Juan Tirrell Curtis was the second suspect tried for the robbery and murder of MaryAnn Stephens. The State originally claimed that Brenton Butler had committed the crimes. The case against Brenton Butler proceeded to trail, but he was acquitted. After Brenton was acquitted, Mr. Stephens then described the suspect to have skinny legs.
However, the state accused Juan Curtis and another man, Jermel Williams, of the robbery and murder of Mrs. Stephens. Jermel Williams accepted a plea to a reduced charge and became a witness for the state. According to officials the appellate court stated that Juan Curtis did not get a fair trial because the trial court deprived him of the right to due process by excluding the confession from evidence connected to the Brenton Butler case. I do agree with the appellate court on the fact that Juan Curtis not getting fair trial. The urors heard a great deal of evidence relating to Butler’s guilt and innocence. They heard from the defense that the Victim’s Husband originally identified Butler as the Shooter; and that he was positive about his identification. But what the Jurors didn’t hear is that Brenton Butler had confessed to the crimes. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision of the Appellate court to reverse and remand this case to the lower courts only because of the evidence that they held against Juan Curtis in which had his fingerprints on a phone card in Mrs.
Stephens Purse which only the offender could of robbed. Also Juan Curtis was arrested on an unrelated traffic charge ninety minutes after the murder. He was in jail when the purse was found. That evidence alone. was proof that Juan Curtis was the man suspect who killed MaryAnn Stephens. In the trial they proved and showed the Jury that he was innocent by showing the truth. They proved that Mr. Stephens was lying when he said that Brenton Butler was wearing a plain shirt when he was wearing a dark blue shirt with a huge “Nautica” symbol in the middle of it.
The detectives also physically abused Brenton Butler. There was no way of proving it until Patrick McGuiness brought pictures of Brenton when he was brought in for questioning. He had bruises on his left cheek where there detective Williams (who is right handed) punched him. Of course he or the other two detectives Williams or Darnell would ever admit to that and that’s another reason that lying is not pure but the truth can be reveled through forensic science. The police in the Brenton Butler case failed to do a thorough investigation.
Otherwise they would of taken all of the forensic science methods they could to solve the case. A year later they found the real criminal Juan Curtis from finger prints from the purse. Forensic science has a huge effect in the crime solving world and can make or break a case. In this case it could have saved an innocent 15 year boy from a lifetime in prison. Luckily Brenton Butler had Patrick McGuiness and Anne Ferrell on his side to give him the upper hand. Unfortunately he still had to waste 6 months of his life in prison, when it could have been shorter if Forensic science was applied.
This case proves that even with mistakes, positive changes can be made when we can learn from them. Eventhough the Justice system is maintained by humans, it is likely to make mistakes and errors that can lead to an individual that is innocence being found guilty. False convictions have become common to societies. Nevertheless, it is possible to lower the amount of wrongfully convicted offenders. There are many resources we have that can truly help our society only if people would participate in making this world a better place. A lot of people complain about crimes but, don’t try to eliminate them.
Most parents are aware that their teenagers are committing crimes but do little to prevent it. As parents we have to be more active with our children where about. Majority of crimes are committed by minorities’ and more commonly Youths. In most serious cases wrongful convictions can lead to an innocent person doing time for a crime he/she has not committed; and resulting in mental trauma for the individual and their family. Government officials should look more careful of the evidence they have on a person. These two cases are prime examples of mistaken identity that can lead to wrongful convictions.