Homicide charge dropped for 1 of 2 Yorkers in fatal pot deal
Two men charged with the Nov. 27 homicide of 17-year-old Ruban Dejesus left their preliminary hearings with quite different results.
Enough evidence was presented against Marquise Anton Stanley at his Feb. 5 preliminary hearing for his case to be forwarded to York County Court for trial. He is charged with homicide and carrying a firearm without a license and remains in York County Prison without bail.
But prosecutors withdrew a homicide charge against Marquis Butts, who testified against Stanley.
Butts, 21, of McKeesport, Allegheny County, waived his right to a preliminary hearing on his remaining charges of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery and is now facing trial on those counts.
Both men appeared before District Judge James Morgan on Feb. 5 for preliminary hearings.
Chief deputy prosecutor Seth Bortner said the homicide charge against Butts wasn't withdrawn in exchange for his cooperation. Rather, it was a fact-based decision, he said.
"As information came in, it was clear that the law doesn't support a charge of criminal homicide against Mr. Butts," Bortner told The York Dispatch.
The background: Stanley, 33, of the 900 block of West Princess Street, is accused of shooting Dejesus in the back after Butts and Dejesus robbed him of a bag of weed and were running away on foot, according to testimony from Stanley's hearing.
It happened about 11:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the 600 block of Linden Avenue, not far from the corner of Roosevelt Avenue.
Butts testified that he, Dejesus and three others met up and went to Linden Avenue to buy marijuana, but "it didn't turn out that good."
He said he grabbed a bag of pot from Stanley's hands, after which he and Dejesus started to run.
"He was just waiting for me to grab the weed," Butts said of Dejesus, implying the victim knew Butts planned to take the drugs without paying.
Butts said he heard a gunshot as he and Dejesus fled on foot.
"He just fell to the ground," Butts said of Dejesus, who Butts left lying on the sidewalk.
"I got in the car and (we) drove to Pandora's Box," Butts said.
He said he made his way to that bar on East Market Street because a cousin of Dejesus was there. Butts said he told the woman that Dejesus had been shot.
Never called for help: Under cross-examination by defense attorney Rick Robinson, Butts — who incessantly swiveled his seat from side to side on the witness stand — confirmed he kept the bag of marijuana he took and never called for help for Dejesus.
"I wasn't calling no police," he testified.
He became annoyed at the defense's questions, at one point telling Robinson, "You heard what I said" when the attorney was asking for clarification, then telling the judge, "I don't wanna talk to this dude, man."
But he continued answering Robinson's questions after District Judge Morgan told Butts to contain himself.
Butts claimed neither he nor Dejesus had a weapon and insisted they didn't struggle with Stanley during the robbery.
He initially testified there was no plan made to rob Stanley, but later in his testimony he said one of the others in the car had planned it.
Struggle alleged: Also testifying Tuesday was York City Police Officer Zachary Pelton, who said an eyewitness reported seeing a brief altercation before hearing gunfire.
"He said it looked like two guys were beating up on one guy," the officer said. "(Then) he heard a gunshot."
A different witness reported that Stanley said he was attacked by two males who were wrestling with him for control of his backpack, Pelton testified.
The witness also reported that Stanley said he pulled a handgun from his backpack during the struggle and shot one of them, according to the officer.
Dejesus suffered a gunshot wound to the torso and was pronounced dead at York Hospital, Pelton said.
Bail set: Butts has spent about three months in York County Prison.
On Tuesday, because the homicide charge was withdrawn, Morgan set Butts' bail at $20,000 unsecured, meaning Butts doesn't have to post any money to be released but could forfeit that amount if he misses court proceedings.
The judge ordered the bail be supervised by York County probation officers to ensure Butts abides by his bail conditions.
He was released from prison about 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, according to prison records.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.