PORT ST. JOE — Attorneys for a Gulf County man cite Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in a request to have a murder charge dismissed.
The public defender for Walton Butler filed a motion on May 21 for the dismissal of criminal charges in the 2012 shooting death of Everett Gant. Butler is charged with one count of second degree murder with a firearm, evidencing prejudice based on race.
Florida’s Stand Your Ground law justifies the use of deadly force if someone believes force is necessary to prevent death or harm to themselves or another.
The defense motion states Butler feared retaliation for use of racial slurs and combined with the “aggressive behavior” of Gant and the difference in size between the two men, Butler contends that deadly force was his last resort and he is entitled to immunity from arrest and prosecution.
A hearing for the motion is scheduled for July 11 at 9:30 a.m. ET. No official trial date is known.
According to the original arresting affidavit from former Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent, an incident occurred during the afternoon of July 30 when a woman came to Butler’s apartment in the Pine Ridge Apartment complex on Garrison Avenue with a child along.
Butler, a white male, used a racial slur to refer to the child.
Investigators discovered Butler had been making similar racial slurs to other children in the complex in the days leading up to the incident.
The woman became upset and left Butler’s apartment. Gant, an African-American, went to Butler’s apartment to discuss the racial comments.
Butler claims that Gant came to the residence and attempted to enter through the sliding door in a “threatening and aggressive manner” while making threats of bodily harm.
Butler shot Gant between the eyes with a .22 rifle and shut his door, leaving Gant to bleed outside.
Butler called 911, finished cooking supper, sat down and began eating, the arresting affidavit details.
Nugent arrived on the scene and contacted Butler by phone, at which time Butler told Nugent to come in, that Butler was eating dinner and had put up the gun. Nugent said Butler, who had been drinking, acted as if “inconvenienced” when put under arrest, saying he could not understand the problem as “he had only shot a (racial slur).”
Butler acknowledged shooting Gant, who died six weeks to the day after the shooting.
Star News Editor Tim Croft contributed to this report