BY JENNIFER CABRERA
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Dennis James Butler, 49, who was already in the Alachua County Jail serving a sentence for driving without a valid license, was charged yesterday with first-degree homicide in a November 8 fatal shooting.
On November 8, the victim went to Butler’s home at about 1:17 p.m. and found Butler sitting in a Lexus sedan in his driveway, facing the street.
Butler allegedly shot the victim eight times, then drove away, discarding his cell phone in northeast Gainesville, where it was later recovered by law enforcement.
Officers responding to the shooting reportedly found eight 9mm shell casings near where the victim was found, all of which were Federal brand.
A search warrant was obtained for Butler’s home, and several boxes of Federal brand 9mm ammunition were reportedly found, along with an empty box for a Walther 9mm handgun. Officers also reported finding a “significant amount” of white powdery residue on several measuring cups, scales, and baggies throughout the house.
A witness in the case described Butler as a “medium level” drug dealer.
Butler remained at large until November 15, when he appeared in court in Gainesville on a charge of driving without a valid license; he entered a plea of nolo contendere to a felony charge of driving without a license as a habitual offender, was sentenced to 120 days in jail, and was taken into custody to begin serving that sentence. He was also charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, with bond set at $250,000.
The Lexus was later found in Gilchrist County.
Butler’s phone records reportedly showed at least 148 phone communications between him and the victim in the month leading up to the murder, with the last call at 12:55 p.m. on the day of the murder. A witness told an officer that he had heard the victim saying repeatedly, “I ain’t got it” to the male voice on the phone.
Butler has nine felony convictions and has served one state prison sentence following a third DUI conviction; he also has a federal criminal history. All of his convictions since 2010 are for either DUI or driving without a valid license.
Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.