Man's conviction overturned on a technicality

Konrad Butler.jpg

Staff Writer

Monday, November 20, 2017

Due to a technicality, the N.C. Court of Appeals has arrested judgment of a Rocky Mount man convicted of shooting at two police officers three years ago.

Konrad Christopher Butler, 50, was originally charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder. He was convicted last year of two counts of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Butler opened fire on officers with the Rocky Mount Police Department who had responded to a call of shots fired on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The officers weren’t wounded. The department’s Special Response Team evacuated several houses in the neighborhood while a negotiator talked Butler into surrendering. Butler received a psychiatric evaluation at Nash UNC Health Care before he was taken into custody.

On appeal, Durham lawyer Geeta Kapur argued Edgecombe County Superior Court Judge Walter Godwin erred by allowing prosecutors to substantially alter one of Butler’s indictments. That indictment had the wrong police officer’s name listed as the victim.

Prosecutors characterized the mistake as a simple clerical error because the wrong name was cut and pasted from the first indictment to the second indictment. Godwin allowed the state to amend the indictment at the beginning of Butler’s trial.

The Appeals Court recently ruled the change was a violation of N.C. General Statute 15A, which specifies indictments can be amended to correct spelling errors, but can’t change a victim’s name.

Butler, who has no previous convictions, was released last month after serving half of the three and a half year sentence he received. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the state plans to refile charges.