Corruption in Jacksonville, FL – The Brenton Butler Case

Hat tip to 2dogsonly.

2dogsonly posted a comment on the page Upsetting the Apple Cart that spurred me to find out more information and blog about the Brenton Butler case.  I also discovered the film on Youtube that 2dogsonly referenced, Murder on A Sunday Morning.  It is embedded below.  Made by French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 74th Academy Awards in 2001. The film follows the case from the defenses’ strategy through verdict and afterwards when the guilty person was arrested and convicted.

The film provides information on how Jacksonville prosecutors were driven to make an arrest of anyone because of the nature of the case.

Murder On A Sunday MorningIn May 2000, in Jacksonville, Florida, 15-year-old Brenton Butler was charged with murder.  As a public defender said in the documentary, the first news he heard about it was that a 15-year-old Black kid had killed a White woman tourist and confessed to the crime.   The victim’s husband identified Brenton as the perpetrator, and Brenton signed a confession.   At his trial however, Brenton testified that he had been brutalized into his confession.  Detectives and cops told him what he did, took him out of the police station in shackles and beat him, wrote the confession and made him sign it as one cop unholstered his firearm.

The public defenders provided photos of Brenton showing bruises that they argued were caused by the beating.  They also asked logical questions of witnesses, such as if the eye witness heard footsteps on the pavement or in the grass?  Did investigators ask Brenton where he got the gun?  Brenton’s public defender attorneys went to the crime scene and re-enacted it as stated by the eye witness, and found that the distance based on the eye-witness’ testimony, was not logical.

In 45 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

After the case, the State Attorney’s Office launched a grand jury investigation into the conduct of the officers and prosecutors, while the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office began an internal affairs investigation.  The grand jury investigation criticized the prosecutor and police for their handling of the case but found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.  The police disciplinary board sought the suspension of three officers and other penalties for two more, but their decision to suspend was later overturned.

The Butler case opened discussion about video taping of police interrBrenton Butlerogations.   Although it would have been great had Brenton Butler not been wrongfully accused, his case should be used as an example for how the American justice can work when racial biases are not used to wrongfully convict, neither to set the guilty free.

In 2004, Butler wrote a book about his experience, entitled They Said It Was Murder.  In an October 2011 interview with News4Jax, they reported that Brenton said, “ despite his story, he doesn’t think things at the sheriff’s office have changed.”

The full movie is about an hour and 48 minutes . Please watch it.  You will not regret doing so.

 

 

 

Posted on 10/20/2013, in Cops Gone Wild, Trials & Cases, Videos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Excellent!! I lived in Jax for 7yrs. … Love the look of the award!!
    Reblog: http://hrexach.wordpress.com/

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    • @Horty. I was invited to retire in Tampa, Florida. I knew very little about Florida and my main reason for not considering it is because I simply love the change of seasons. There was no reason for me to re-locate.

      Hey — Illinois has more governors sent to prison than any other state, so why should corruption discourage me from moving to another state with corruption? LOL!!

      Thanks for your support!

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      • Hi, Xena!!! Florida is nice … but to stay within your circle and the bigger cities. Otherwise you run the risk of meeting “Weird” folks!!!

        Change of seasons? What is that?? LOL … not here!
        🙂

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        • @Horty. I know nice people who moved to Florida, thus, the invitation that I do the same. Since blogging, I’ve met some dynamite folks who live in Florida. Then there is Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin who demonstrate the utmost in class and dignity.

          Change of seasons??? That’s when you stop seeing skunks, ground hogs, and snakes, and start seeing more deer, opossums and foxes. LOL!!

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          • Change of seasons …. I was being facetious!! Since we don’t have those … LOL!!
            Would love to see the autumn leaves ….. Not to excited about winter, though!!! 🙂
            Have a good one!!

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            • You would love the winters here, in La Quinta, CA. Lets just say, tomorrows forcast is 94. That is cool compared to the 4 months of 110 to 128, with the lows averaging in the mid 80’s. Thank god for air conditioners and pools. LOL

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          • roderick2012

            Xena, we do have seasons in FL–hurricane season (June-November) and non-hurricane season–the other six months. LOL

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            • Two sides to a story

              I spent a year in FL and there seemed to be two seasons, rainy and and not so rainy . . . You could have some weather in the 50s in the winter in which people would pull out their woollies, then it would turn around and hit 80 and everyone would be on the beach again.

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            • @Two sides. Now that mention it, one of my friend’s told me about the rain, but said it didn’t last for long and is what we here call a “shower.”

              Temps in the 50’s here is Spring. LOL!! We don’t pull out our woolies until the temp gets in the 20’s. Thermals come out when the temp hit zero or below.

              I have a friend in LA who turns on his furnace when the temp is in the 60’s.

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            • Two sides to a story

              I lived in the St. Pete area, which is basicially a peninsula. When it rains, it pours there! On the coast of Cali where I live now, lightning is very rare, but it seemed to pop and crackle all over the place during thunderstorms on both the Gulf side of the peninsula and on the Bay side. It was wild.

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            • @Two sides. So, sounds like you don’t miss the St. Petersburg lightning shows, uh? LOL!

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            • Two sides to a story

              I lived in the mountains of the SW for years and loved the monsoon storms and the beautiful lightning shows, but the lightning didn’t often seem to be right on top of you. In St. Pete it seemed to flash right over your head and the thunder would rattle the house – it was interesting but very intimidating!

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            • You can’t forget Love-Bug Season. So you have spring–Love Bugs, summer–Hurricane, fall-Love bugs again, and finally winter–we do occasionally have a couple of freeze warnings to make sure you bring in pets and plants but for most Northerners, it is open the windows and cool off. For natives like me, it is turn on the heat when it hits 65.

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            • @roderick2012.

              Xena, we do have seasons in FL–hurricane season (June-November) and non-hurricane season–the other six months. LOL

              HA!!! ROFLOL!

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  2. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Corruption …. everywhere!!

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  3. I’ve seen it first hand……Corruption….An American Institution. I say there should be a life sentence with no chance of parole if corruption is uncovered and a conviction was the result. I add that the state owes the wrongly convicted say……..$5,000,000.00 as a minimum and twice that to his / her estate if they die in prison or are executed.

    Maybe that would stop these bastards.

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    • @racerrodig. I don’t know the answer nor solution other than it lies with the juries. The courts have to be more involved in making sure that juries are educated people who understand the facts and law, and are not biased in any way, shape, form, or fashion. That is almost an impossible task to get correct 100 percent of the time.

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      • Some countries have professional jurists and at times I think that’s what we need. If they are educated in the law and application, maybe the corruption would end. If a racist shit like Z Sr. can be a Magistrate and make life altering decisions with minimal education, what about juries.

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        • @racerrodig. When I heard Maddy, Juror B29 say “womans” instead of “women,” I thought oh geeze! How easy was it for the wife of an attorney to make her believe that she COULDN’T understand the instructions and the law. Never mind that we don’t know Juror B37’s education. IOWs, Maddy’s self-esteem must be in the gutter for her to be convinced by people who know people rather than by what she was instructed by officers of the court.

          The idea of having rotating jurors rather than professional jurors might work in America. Try them out in one case and if they adhere to the facts, law and jury instructions, then have them on the next jury. When there are enough jurors, rotate them between cases. This can be for a limited period, such as 6 to 12 months. Then jurors identified as being impartial and capable are rotated in.

          When I hear jurors say that they don’t understand the law, and it is a law of their State and some of them have conceal carry licenses, it makes me shudder. So, they have carried or are carrying guns, and do not understand the initial aggressor section of the law!!!!

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          • roderick2012

            Xena, I believe that you don’t understand how much more knowledgable about the law you are than the average citizen and you’re setting the bar far too high for mere mortals like me. LOL

            I always thought that B37 used the fact that her husband was a lawyer as a way to intellectually bully and manipulate the three initial jurors who wanted to convict Piglet. Of course I don’t doubt that the other two who initially agreed with B37 that Piglet wasn’t guilty ganged up with B37 to convince the other three to vote not guilty.

            As for professional juries I have my doubts because they would be much easier to bribe and a lot of the cases would have similar outcomes with the same jurors.

            Xena, I think you need to accept that Piglet’s case was rigged at multiple levels.

            It boggles my mind that Judge Nelson refused to allow two of the prosecution’s expert witnesses to testify but allowed Donnely’s ‘expert testimony’ and of course the State just sat on it’s hands and didn’t object at all.

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            • Two sides to a story

              “I always thought that B37 used the fact that her husband was a lawyer as a way to intellectually bully and manipulate the three initial jurors who wanted to convict Piglet. ”

              I think you’re absolutely on the mark. Add a little FL culture in which many people defer to the pushiest white person.

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            • @roderick2012. HEY!!

              I always thought that B37 used the fact that her husband was a lawyer as a way to intellectually bully and manipulate the three initial jurors who wanted to convict Piglet. Of course I don’t doubt that the other two who initially agreed with B37 that Piglet wasn’t guilty ganged up with B37 to convince the other three to vote not guilty.

              Oh, I agree. B37 identified herself to O’Mara as his stealth, and he then gave her instructions on what to do in the jury room. More specifically, he said for her to advise other jurors that if it didn’t come from the witness stand that it couldn’t be considered. That ruled out all of Zimmerman’s statements and the Hannity interview; the clubhouse video showing Zimmerman following Trayvon on his heels; and the demonstration that Zimmerman could not get his gun with Trayvon’s legs in the way.

              As for professional juries I have my doubts because they would be much easier to bribe and a lot of the cases would have similar outcomes with the same jurors.

              True. That is why if America was going to take a route on changing the selection of jurors, it would need to be on a rotation basis.

              Xena, I think you need to accept that Piglet’s case was rigged at multiple levels.

              You might be right but for now, I still take a position that the prosecutors have a boss and have to follow the boss’ instructions. I also take the position that the prosecutors gave too much credit to the jurors for having common sense. The most practical common sense for Maddy would be to ask herself, what does she tell her sons? If they are followed by a stranger, confronted and killed, that there is no law to convict the person who killed them.

              Running doesn’t reveal their fear. Having the perpetrator say that he went in his pockets and was then punched as he did so doesn’t reveal their fear. Screaming for help has no expert to identity their voice. DNA or physical evidence inconsistent with the perpetrator’s story means nothing. All the perp has to do is say he was concerned about crime in the area, that her son matched the racial description of those committing crime, and that justifies his taking of her son’s life.

              It boggles my mind that Judge Nelson refused to allow two of the prosecution’s expert witnesses to testify but allowed Donnely’s ‘expert testimony’ and of course the State just sat on it’s hands and didn’t object at all.

              Yes. By the standard Judge Nelson set, any party can omit the names of some witnesses, let those witnesses sit in court during trial for two days, then add them to the witness list, have them deposed while trial is taking place, and put them on the witness stand to testify in an expert capacity when they are no expert.

              The State should have torn Donnelly up during cross, but I think they wanted to have all of his testimony excluded based on violation of witness sequestration rules. They put all of the eggs in one basket. Judge Nelson disappointed them.

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            • When B37 was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, she said that former lead police investigator Chris Serino’s testimony that he had believed Zimmerman was telling the truth had made a strong impression on her. Judge Nelson had instructed the jury that they should disregard Serino’s comment and not consider it in rendering a verdict.

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            • @dreamer.

              Judge Nelson had instructed the jury that they should disregard Serino’s comment and not consider it in rendering a verdict.

              Absolutely. It didn’t make a different to JurorB37. She probably wasn’t listening to Judge Nelson anyway. I did a video on that back in July.

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            • Two sides to a story

              In my opinion, there need to be laws regarding a jury’s misinterpretation of stuff they were supposed to disregard if there’s public disclosure as there was in this case. It’s too bad that a mistrial can’t be called after the fact.

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  4. (adminstrator’s note. I am editing the beginning because I do not want what we discuss in private to be known by Trayvon haters.)

    Xena, got it. Understand it completely. I did not know there was an award for most Influential Blogger but you have my vote x’s guadrillion. Still standing after all the stuff they directed to you and like minds (mine being right there with ya babe). I am making a movie, can you believe that it is a work in progress. You my Goddess have done exceptional work in that area. Keep doing what you do so well.
    Racer I see you above how are you, have you forgiven me? I miss your clever sarcastic comments I really do. Remember about humor it was said so well in the movie “The Great Debaters” use your humor against them. It really drives them to nowhere. I love ya Xena and will read your email again. You keep up the good works you do. I am a huge fan.
    XOXOXOXO Sdunn5

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    • @SDunn. Had you not deleted your original blog, it would be on my nomination list for most influence blogger. I am glad that you’re back. Didn’t take long for the Trayvon haters to find you, uh?

      I look forward to your movie. Love you too!! And, you too keep up the good work. I admire your discernment, for instance, am still pondering if the man you picked up in the 7-Eleven video is George Zimmerman.

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      • It’s him. I know it is hard to believe it took me forever because I was not looking for him. I wanted to see Trayvon and someone along the line said Shellie was in there, so I always thought the huge charlie brown hat guy was weird so imagine my surprise when there was audio. And I watched him and slowed it down till he looked straight into that camera, wow it gave me the creeps.

        He was not arrested for 44 days all that time he was on adderal (meth) of course he looked different but he has jowls no mistaking those. Trayvon when he finally enters is feeling something is off which is why he turned around before exiting he acted like he was picking something up on the floor like a kid would but he was looking for another way out. It is so obvious poor kid. Someone following you and he is feeling it. I think he chased that poor kid way more then any of us knows.

        What did you think about Eloise Dilligard? Strange is it not, then to mention she had seen Trayvon earlier that day. I give her a F in testimony. It looked like she was in another room of the courthouse the same paneling. Yikes.

        Trayvon was a stringbean he would not have been tired of running unless he had been running for a long time. It hurts my heart to consider the horror he felt as he died. It is not how our children should ever go. Unspeakable horror these beautiful parents have endured. They are the most courageous family I have been privileged to witness. Thank you for the mention of my former blog. I thought it was thought provoking and had hits that showed it was being looked at a lot. But there comes a time when it becomes fodder for them and I had to take it down. I am happy you have not buckled good job. You are a pillar reflecting what the real deal is and I thank you. I am so terribly sorry if I ever offended you by comments but then again you never know if it really is me. Now you know when it is me. My hat is off to your constant reminder that we will not forget or be silenced. Love you Xena it is wonderful to have you here when I need you. XOXO

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        • roderick2012

          Sdunn5: What did you think about Eloise Dilligard? Strange is it not, then to mention she had seen Trayvon earlier that day. I give her a F in testimony. It looked like she was in another room of the courthouse the same paneling. Yikes.

          I was amazed at the BS that O’Mara pulled. Oh Judge, testimony from this witness requires a unique approach—testimony by Iphone. WTF?

          And it seemed as if both Judge Nelson and the State were dazzled by O’Mara’s bullshit.

          As for Eloise she was every single black stereotype rolled into one. Hell I bet she was even wearing fuzzy pink slippers while she testified.

          She couldn’t even keep her simple lies straight and O’Mara had to lead her testimony and yet the State sat on its ass and didn’t object to one single thing.

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    • Doing fine…hope you are as well. Since the head Zidiot is in hiding, I’m storing up quite a bit of sarcastic humor and plan on unloading it on the The Zidiot Nation as soon as he surfaces. A friend of mine spotted him last month in Laurel MD so he’s liable to be anywhere.

      Forgive you…..I was never really mad but we’re all cool !!

      My son and his band mates asked me to join with a very talented (and connected) musician friend and we’re doing cover songs and some originals about topics just like what we stand for here and on Leatherman’s site. We’re playing an outdoor gig on 11/2 and will film it. What we’re going to attempt is a major anti – bullying / corruption” campaign. Since we live in the social media age, they came up with the idea of using every avenue available specifically to deal with this.

      So “his” band has adults with playing and song writing experience and kids with talent BUT still in school and living in an age where this torture goes on everyday. Since he and the female lead singer are very popular in school, they want to attack the problem with songs even the bullies like but don’t “get it” They felt that having the older guys would move the talent pool way up (my friend is as good as SRV or Kenny Wayne Sheppard on guitar) and make us credible.

      We’re writing a few anti bullying songs and Kindheart101 wrote a poem last year on HP that she allowed me to use as the basis for a song about Trayvon. The band has been through some personal changes but now we’re cooking with gas. We’re going to try to get the message out as strongly as possible.

      By the way…..Xena is among the best if not the best….vote early and often I say !!

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      • Ah Racer I so missed you of course I will vote but a concert really I always loved your rewrites very well done. Got that humor back right good job we shall overcome those who are humorless. Let me tell you something I will go find it and post it here on my blog for you. You don’t have to comment maybe let Xena know but it really fits in to this case indirectly. Zimmerman egged on a man who was middle eastern with Achmed, now Jeff Dunham has had this guy on before, but watch it because he was a studio musician and his son has gold records now the group is Avenged Sevenfold, they do all the music for the video game Call of Duty. I think you will get a kick out of his Dad look for it in a few minutes. Love ya Racer you hanging tough friend of mine.

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        • @Sdunn5. Just a quick response for now. I went to the moderation queue and your IP is not there. I don’t know why your comments are still going into moderation but will do some checking on the Word Press help blogs to see if I can find an answer to the problem.

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  5. I remember that documentary. It was very insightful. It showed how just being Black was enough to get someone convicted. No witness,no matching physical evidence,no DNA,just being Black. It shows how a kid walking by himself ,not bothering anybody can be targeted.profiled imprisoned.It this kind of profiling that can lead to a Trayvon getting killed and somehow be considered the bad guy. Heaven forbid that the same demonization gets done to David James,Chris Lane Delbert Belton because they don’t deserve it. See other documentaries The Trials of Darryl Hunt ,The Exonerated and the countless others.Once again Xena congrats on the nod,and keep up the good work.

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    • @m1.

      See other documentaries The Trials of Darryl Hunt ,The Exonerated and the countless others.

      Thanks for the references. I’ll look them up.

      You know, my heart goes out to other victims, such as Ethan Saylor, who was killed by off-duty cops moon-lighting in a theater. Ethan was Down Syndrome.

      It goes out to the family of Travis Castle. I didn’t include it in the article, but I met his dad. Travis was killed while committing a crime, but he was still a kid and is missed by his family. His dad has to live with 2 guys involved in committing the crime being sentenced to 5 yrs each for manslaughter.

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  6. They also asked logical questions of witnesses, such as if the eye witness heard footsteps on the pavement or in the grass?

    Wonder why investigators did not ask Zimmerman if he heard footsteps on the pavement or grass before he heard Trayvon ask if he had a problem? Wonder also why they didn’t ask him why he did not turn away from Trayvon after saying he didn’t have a problem.

    Since he stumbled 40 to 60 feet after he said he was hit in the nose, why did he not stumble in the opposite direction towards his truck than away from it?

    If only the defense in Brent’s case had been the prosecutors in Zimmerman’s.

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  7. .Brenton wasn’t convicted. Jax. Fl. jury returned a not guilty verdict in 45 minutes. I’m so sorry the detectives conviction on corruption was overturned but by this documentary winning the ACADEMY AWARD for BEST DOCUMENTARY, their lives were ruined.

    I made that in caps so everyone would understand what a wonderful outcome that was for everyone.

    The guy that committed the crime was arrested and his DNA matched so the public knows it wasn’t just spot on lawyering that got him off but he was really and truly innocent.

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