Trial of hog hunter accused in death set for late March
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.