Execution-style killing resulted from beating and shooting

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 22, 2004


Staff Reporter

RESERVE – Five LaPlace men, arrested Thursday by St. John the Baptist Parish authorities, confessed they were connected with the murder of a sixth LaPlace man. The victim, found Nov. 7 behind the Mississippi River levee in Reserve, had been severely beaten and shot in the head.

Dauren Howard, 18, of 612 Revere Drive, was charged with first-degree murder after he confessed to beating and shooting Jerry Butler, 22, twice in the head, said Maj. Robert Hay, head of Bureau of Investigations Division.

Hay said Denyen Gaines, 26, and Frank Williamson, 24, both of 337 Arlington Drive and Kevin Campbell, 21, of 1504 Glendale were charged with principal to first degree murder and obstruction of justice after the three men confessed they beat Butler profusely.

After Ryan Triche, 22, of 578 Greenwood Drive, confessed he helped remove evidence from the crime scene, he was charged with obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact.

Hay said the motive for the murder stemmed from a Friday night quarrel over a hand gun. The argument took place between Butler and the five men in the home of Gaines and Williamson.

Butler fled the home and all five men pursued him in a car driven by Triche, said Hay.

According to Hay, the men chased Butler from Friday night until early Saturday morning. They went to the home of Butler’s mother, searching for the man.

Early Saturday morning, Butler returned to the home on 337 Arlington Drive.

Authorities do not know if Butler was brought to the home by the other men or if he returned there on his own accord.

“That’s when things really got bad,” said Hay.

The detective said Howard, Gaines, Williamson and Campbell brutally beat Butler in the Arlington Drive home before placing him in the trunk of a car and driving him to the Mississippi Levee in Reserve.

“Butler was removed from the car, placed on the ground and shot in the head twice,” said Hay. “The victim was barely breathing. He was gasping for air. He was beaten so severely that if they had not shot him, he would have died within a short period of time anyway.”

Hay said Triche was not present when Butler was beaten and murdered. However, Triche told authorities he helped remove evidence from the crime scene.

Sheriff Wayne L. Jones said, “We got confessions. Fifteen of my officers worked hard on this case. I am proud of them. They worked for hours on this case without stopping. When a case is hot, you have to continue the investigation unceasingly before the leads grow cold. We will present a solid case to the prosecution.”

Jones said the entire week and a half long investigation was possible due to the dedicated and endless efforts of the entire Sheriff’s Office.

Crime Scene Technicians, the Patrol Division, the Narcotics Division and the Criminal Investigators Division recovered evidence, conducted citizen interviews and analyzed historical intelligence.

This intelligence was relevant in arresting five individuals charged with Butler’s murder and in securing information about the 337 Arlington Drive residence.

Investigators were able to obtain a court authorized search warrant for the Arlington Drive home due to the sufficient intelligence gathered by authorities. The search warrant was executed with the assistance of the Special Operations Response Team (S.O.R.T.).

Authorities noted that all five of the men arrested had criminal histories.

Court records revealed Howard had a prior felony theft charge. Gaines was previously charged for possession of marijuana, theft, forgery and traffic violations. Williamson was once charged with unauthorized use of a moveable, shoplifting and attachments for traffic violations and Campbell was charged previously with possession of marijuana and traffic violations.

During the investigation of this case, authorites procured information pertaining to another crime.

“There is a good chance this additional information will help us solve a separate case we needed answers to,” said Jones.