A man convicted of murder in Florence and in South Carolina will serve out his sentence in the Carolinas for now.
At the Lauderdale County Court house, 27-year old Justin Butler took a plea deal to spend 20 years behind bars; however, he’s already serving 55 years for murder in South Carolina. On Wednesday the judge told him 20 of his 55 years there will count as his sentence for the murder of Eric Watkins in Florence.
The murder case in South Carolina, which apparently took place half a year before Watkins’ 2013 murder, is under appeal. If it leads to action, the judge in Lauderdale County will resentence him.
“This was a brutal murder of Eric Watkins,” said Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. “He was shot multiple times while he was sitting in a vehicle here in Florence.”
There was apparently disagreement over drugs. Butler’s indictment says he was known by “Pop-A-Molly” and “Jona McCoy”.
“We had a lot of discussions with the family about what was best to do and they certainly wanted to hold him accountable for what he did here, but also make sure that he was convicted and that he’s not gonna be out of prison any time soon,” Connolly said.
The defense attorney and one of Butler’s family members declined to comment. The attorney instructed Butler to remain silent as they left the court room.
“Anything you want to say about what went on in there?” WZDX News asked Butler as they exited.
Butler answered back something unintelligible.
“He doesn’t have anything to say,” his attorney said. As they entered the elevator he told Butler, “To the camera you don’t have anything to say.”
The DA says Butler will be taken to South Carolina as soon as possible.