Drive-by shooter convicted by jury

Published 11:31pm Tuesday, December 4, 2012

After deliberating for just 30 minutes, a Dallas County jury found Johnny Lee Dukes, who was charged with capital murder for shooting 3-year-old Rosjah J. Butler, guilty Tuesday.

Following the conviction on three charges of capital murder, Circuit Judge Jack Meigs sentenced Dukes to life without parole.

On April 27, 2010, 13 shots rang out in front of a Church Street home and witnesses claim those shots came from a black Dodge Intrepid driving by the home. Several of those shots entered inside, one fatally wounding 3-year-old Butler and another flew past his mother’s head but left her unscathed.

Butler bled to death when a bullet came through the wall and punctured a major artery near his heart. He was pronounced dead later that evening at Vaughan Regional Medical Center.

Selma Police detective Tory Neely testified during Dukes’ bond hearing that Dukes fired shots with his hand outside of the moving Intrepid at the house on Church Street while sitting in the front passenger side of the vehicle.

Tuesday, Cheryl Williams, Butler’s grandmother, commended assistant district attorney Shannon Lynch for her hard work in the case and said this verdict will help her family heal.

“Ever since my grandbaby was killed I have had to watch my daughter suffer,” Williams said. “With this guilty verdict, I have not seen [my daughter] happier than when she was with her son.”

She said prior to her grandson’s murder, her daughter was a happy person, but afterwards she said something changed.

“They say when parents bury a child, they also bury part of themselves and that is so true. She has been so unhappy and has struggled,” Williams said. “But this verdict is the beginning of closure for us.”

And with Butler’s mother sitting with the prosecution in the courtroom, Lynch spoke about Dukes’ intention to murder, as well as brought attention to what she said really mattered in the trial — the 3-year-old, “who will never get to grow up.”

“A drive by shooting that kills a 3-year-old is something that happens in big cities and not a small town like Selma — but it did happen,” Lynch told the jury in closing statements. “This takes our safety and piece of mind … It is your inherent right to feel safe in your own home. It is your right to be able to put your children in bed to sleep and know they will be safe from harm.”

Authorities said an argument over the quality of marijuana purchased by a second suspect, Aaron Harris, from someone inside the home on Church Street, where Butler was killed, is what spurred the shooting to occur.

In the trial Glenn Williams, Butler’s uncle, admitted he shot back at the moving Dodge Intrepid.

“Nobody can bring the child back, but this will help to bring closure to the family,” District Attorney Michael Jackson said. “I think this sends a powerful message in this community that we will not tolerate drive-by shootings where innocent people are killed.”

The four suspects in the case — Aaron Harris, Johnny Lee Dukes, Brandon Lewis and Michael Hunter — were all said to have been in the Dodge Intrepid the night of the shooting and are all being charged with capital murder. The suspects are being held in the Dallas County Jail without bond.

Dukes’ attorney Thomas Goggans said they plan to appeal Tuesday’s verdict as early as next week.

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