After more than a year of waiting, the family of Everett Gant heard a verdict.
But not their son, brother, nephew or grandson.
Walt Butler was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 28 years in prison more than a year after slaying Gant.
In July 2012, Butler shot Gant with a .22 rifle at the Pine Ridge Apartments. Gant died six weeks later from his injuries.
The jury handed down the decision after a three-day trial, which was held only after Butler’s attorney made a motion to invoke the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground, only to later withdraw the motion.
Butler, in turn, was not convicted of the hate-crime charge given Butler’s use of racial epithets to describe an African-American child in the community, the spark that ignited the eventual slaying, as well as his comments to deputies after his arrest.
In the first airing of the evidence and eyewitness accounts of the night, the public also learned that Butler had been drinking heavily the day of the incident and conflicting testimony on who opened a sliding glass door, through which Gant either entered or was shot, and by whom.
After the sentence was read by Circuit Judge John Fishel, Butler asked if he could address the court.
The only time he spoke during the course of the trial, Butler apologized to the Gant family. He said that he liked Everett a lot and didn’t mean to kill him.
Butler intends to appeal the sentence.