The family of a St. Johnsbury man shot in the back on Elm Street this year say they are in fear for their lives now that a judge has released the alleged shooter into the custody of his mother.
Arther S. Butler was 17 years-old when he was charged with reckless endangerment and felony aggravated assault for allegedly shooting Brandon Delude, 24, twice in the back while they fought on the ground outside of 63 Elm St. in April.
Butler has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Delude is still recovering from the shooting but according to his fiance he can no longer walk due to his injuries.
“He’s as good as he can be,” said Brooke Hornbeck-Fielder on Tuesday. “He’s paralyzed from his midsection down.”
Butler was being held in a special pre-trial detention unit for minors.
But on Friday, Butler’s defense attorney Dan Sedon of Chelsea filed a motion with the court alleging that his client has been abused by his fellow inmates since he was moved into the general prison population when he turned 18 years old on Aug. 1.
“Since being moved into general population Mr. Butler, who is small, slightly built and looks much younger than his actual age of 18 has been assaulted by adult inmates approximately 5 times,” wrote Sedon in his motion for bail review.
“This has resulted in physical injury to him on each of the 5 occasions, including black eyes and contusions visible to his counsel and an investigator from the Office of Prisoners Rights. In addition, Mr. Butler is the subject of constant sexual harassment and invitations to sexual congress with other inmates. Mr. Butler does not report these incidents because to do so would cause him to be labeled a ‘snitch’ and would subject him to even more physical violence. In this conclusion Mr. Butler is not wrong.”
On Monday, the court scheduled a hearing on the motion for Tuesday at 1 p.m. where Judge Mary Miles Teachout released Butler into the custody of his mother Christine Butler under 24-hour curfew at 316 Willey Hill Road In Topsham.
Prosecutors opposed the motion but said that with just 24 hours of notice they did not have time to file a written response or arrange for witnesses or victim testimony.
Hornbeck-Fielder said Tuesday she didn’t even know there was a hearing scheduled and was shocked to learn that Butler had been released.
“You don’t feel like your family is safe,” said Hornbeck-Fielder. “Especially with the comments he’s made.”
In May, The Director of Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Colchester where Butler was being held as minor, testified in open court that Butler had said he wished he had finished the job.
“He said that the only thing he regretted was not emptying a full clip into the person,” said Director Jay Simons during a prior review of Butler’s conditions-of-release.
According to court documents, Butler shot Delude twice in the back with a 9 mm handgun after Butler pointed the weapon at Hornbeck Fielder. Police said they found Delude on the ground bleeding from gunshot wounds in the lower left quadrant of his back and near his left shoulder. Delude survived the shooting, but was seriously injured.
Hornbeck Fielder told investigators the incident began just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, April 2 when Butler’s co-defendant in the case, John H. “JJ” Emerson III, 18, of Newbury, brought a “folding rifle” into a friend’s apartment on Elm Street and that a dispute over the gun spilled onto the street where Hornbeck Fielder said she disarmed Emerson.
It was then, according to the report, that Butler pointed his gun at Hornbeck Fielder prompting Delude to tackle Butler and wrestle with him on the ground until he was shot.
Both Butler and Emerson then fled the scene, said police, and were on the the run until they turned themselves into state police at the Westminster Barracks.