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Prosecutor Dies, Fate of Murder Suspects in Limbo

13th Judicial Dist. Prosecutor
David Butler

RISON – The fate of two suspects charged in the 2015 murder of Cherris Faith Allbright is currently in limbo after 13th Judicial District Prosecutor David Butler of Magnolia died Sunday, Aug. 13, from a suspected heart attack.

Butler, 63, was the lead prosecutor in the capital murder trial of Brad Hunter Smith, who was found guilty of capital murder, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse. Smith received the death penalty for capital murder, the first death sentence handed down in Cleveland County in 74 years.

Smith was one of three people charged in Allbright’s death. The other two, Jonathan Geunther of the Randall community and Josh Brown of Rison, both testified about their roles in the murder during Smith’s trial last month. Butler said in an interview before his death that they were scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 12.

During that interview, Butler hinted that there might be a plea agreement in the works for both Geunther and Brown.“There’s a good chance and I feel confident that we can successfully resolve this case,” Butler said.

The prosecution team that tried Smith consisted of Butler, District Deputy Prosecutor Greg Thomas of El Dorado and Cleveland County Deputy Prosecutor Tom Wynne of Fordyce.

Wynne said Monday that Butler’s death will have a impact on what happens next for the other two suspects. As the lead prosecutor in the case, Wynne said Butler would have been the person responsible for any plea agreements that may have been in the works on behalf of the state. Due to that fact, Wynne predicted that the Sept. 12 court date for Geunther and Brown could be delayed.

To read the full article, see the August 16, 2017 print or e-Herald edition of The Herald.

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