Just three weeks after being convicted for second-degree murder by a Gulf County jury for shooting Everett Gant in the head with a .22 rifle, Walt Butler was sentenced to 28 years with the Florida Department of Corrections.
“I’ve put quite a bit of thought and consideration into the sentence,” said Circuit Judge John Fishel.
Prior to delivery of the sentence, Butler’s public defender Mark Sims pushed for a 25 year sentence, the lowest possible for a life felony. He told Fishel that Butler was 60-years-old and with a 25 year sentence there would be hope that he might be released and be able to see his kids.
State attorney Robert Sombathy pushed for the maximum sentence of life in prison.
“The 25 year minimum might be a life sentence for you,” Fishel told Butler. “You never know when it’s time for someone to go.”
Before the sentence was read, Butler asked to address the court where he apologized to the Gant family. Butler said that he too had lost a son and knew how hard it was.
“I liked Everett a lot,” said Butler. “I want to make it perfectly clear that I didn’t intentionally kill the boy.”
Sombathy spoke on behalf of the Everett Gant’s father, who opted not to attend the sentencing. According to Sombathy, Everett told his father that Butler had racist sensibilities, but that he planned to win him over with kindness.
Butler will be credited with the 501 days he already spent in the Gulf County Jail. Sims requested that Butler be kept as close to Gulf County as possible due to the proximity of family.
Sims said that he plans to file a notice of appeal for the sentence within 30 days.