Buterbaugh Found Guilty Of Murder
A jury comprised of six women and seven men took more than three hours Friday to review three days of testimony, opening and closing statements, and photographs depicting damage to a 1986 Ford F-150 truck before rendering a guilty verdict in the commonwealth’s case against 42-year-old Gerald “Choo” Buterbaugh.
In closing statements Franklin County Assistant District Attorney John Lisko pointed out Buterbaugh showed a lack of respect for former Burnt Cabins resident Dale Henry in comparison to what most motorists would show for an animal crossing a highway. During the early morning hours on May 31, 2010, Buterbaugh and passengers Shane “Lumpy” Waters and Nathan Souders were leaving the Hillside Tavern when their 1986 Ford F-150 struck and fatally wounded Henry.
Henry was said to have been standing near the fog line when he was hit. He died of multiple blunt force trauma after having sustained skull fractures and bleeding on the brain.
An accident reconstructionist told the court it is estimated Buterbaugh’s truck was travelling at a speed of 17 to 27 miles per hour when Henry was struck.
Taking the stand on his own behalf, Buterbaugh testified during the jury trial that he had pressed the truck’s accelerator to the floor. Buterbaugh also said in court he was “scared” and only trying to leave the bar just outside of Fannettsburg after his friends were asked to leave as a result of an altercation with other patrons. The fight reportedly spilled outside with beer bottles being thrown.
Souders testified he would have “cut the wheel” if he had been driving.
Waters countered under oath that he would not have been able to miss striking Henry in the event he had been behind the wheel. In turn, Lisko shared with the jury Waters’ written statement initially given to Pennsylvania State Police investigators. The statement said Henry could “have been avoided.” Waters clarified for the court that hitting Henry could have been avoided if Buterbaugh had spotted him in time.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Michael Dick of the Chambersburg barracks presented the court with a signed statement given by Buterbaugh, who wrote he “took off mad” and was driving recklessly in an attempt to scare Henry. Dick testified that following initial impact Buterbaugh drove a short time before stopping.
He added Buterbaugh told him he stopped because he wanted to “fly through them (the bar patrons)” to see if he could get some more. Buterbaugh later denied having made this statement during a follow-up interview and noted Henry jumped in front of his truck, said Dick.
Buterbaugh will be sentenced in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on June 1 by Judge Richard J. Walsh. The charge of third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison, the standard sentencing range typically falls between 8-1/2 to 20 years.