Trial of hog hunter ac­cused in death set for late March

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - BILL BOW­DEN

Both sides in a hog-hunt­ing homi­cide told Car­roll County Cir­cuit Judge Scott Jack­son on Mon­day they’ll be ready to go to trial March 27, said Tony Rogers, Car­roll County pros­e­cu­tor.

Christo­pher Kevin But­ler, 44, was charged with first-de­gree mur­der in the Feb. 19, 2016, shoot­ing death of John Catlin Keck, 30.

But­ler pleaded not guilty to the charge, as well as to a felony charge of tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence.

Both men lived in Eureka Springs, and the shoot­ing oc­curred in a ru­ral area about 2 miles north of the city. But­ler told po­lice he didn’t know Keck.

But­ler said he shot Keck in self-de­fense, ac­cord­ing to an af­fi­davit of prob­a­ble cause. But­ler said he thought he heard Keck “jack” a round of am­mu­ni­tion into the cham­ber of a pis­tol, then point the gun in his di­rec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

“I felt like if I didn’t pull the trig­ger, I was go­ing to die,” But­ler told po­lice.

But­ler called the Car­roll County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and Eureka Springs Po­lice Depart­ment to report the shoot­ing, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

But­ler told po­lice he hunted for hogs about five nights a week, and he had gone hunt­ing Feb. 19, 2016, be­cause some friends asked him to ob­tain three hogs for them. But­ler told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he parked his Jeep block­ing a “wal­low road” like he usu­ally did and set off on foot in search of hogs.

But Dustin An­der­son, a hog-hunt­ing friend of But­ler’s, told po­lice But­ler called him the night of Feb. 19, 2016, say­ing there was a tres­passer on the hunt­ing prop­erty. But­ler told An­der­son he was go­ing to block the road with his Jeep and wait in the bushes, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. But­ler had per­mis­sion to hunt on the prop­erty, but he didn’t own the land.

But­ler was wear­ing a ghillie suit and cam­ou­flage cloth­ing and was armed with an AR-15-style ri­fle, ac­cord­ing to a mo­tion filed by Rogers.

From the bushes, But­ler saw the head­lights of a Dodge Dakota pickup ap­proach­ing, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. But­ler told po­lice he heard the pickup driver rev the engine and shout ob­scen­i­ties when he saw the wal­low road was blocked.

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.

Af­ter the shoot­ing, But­ler “threw” a P90 Ruger .45-cal­iber pis­tol into the floor­board of the Jeep, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

But­ler’s pub­lic de­fender is Joseph Tobler of Lit­tle Rock. Tobler didn’t re­turn a call seek­ing com­ment Mon­day.

Mon­day’s pre­trial hear­ing was held in Ber­ryville. The trial is sched­uled in Car­roll County’s Eureka Springs court­house.

Jack­son has set aside two days for the trial.

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