Robert Earl Buttrey pleaded guilty to two counts of murder on Friday, July 24, just days before a trial was scheduled to begin.
Buttrey pleaded guilty to murdering Thomas Steele, 19, and Casey Tiner, 16, of Granbury in August 2000. The bodies were discovered five years later (December 2005) in a field in the western region of Somervell County.
According to Sharie Heading, Tiner’s cousin, Buttrey allegedly used a samurai sword belonging to Steele to murder the couple. Buttrey and Steele were allegedly best friends when the murders occurred, Heading said.
Tiner, Steele, Buttrey and Buttrey’s former girlfriend were allegedly planning a trip to Las Vegas together shortly before the murders occurred.
Buttrey was arrested in August 2006 and indicted on murder charges in February 2007 when police linked him to the slayings after finding a necklace belonging to Buttrey at the murder scene, along with the sword.
Buttrey was sentenced to two concurrent five-year sentences. By law, he is required to serve half of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole. Buttrey will receive credit towards his sentence for the 1,021 days he has already spent in the Somervell County Jail, which amounts to approximately two years and nine months.
“Due to the offense, he is required to stay half of his time,” Buttrey’s attorney Dick Turner said. “He is actually parole eligible right now. (That is) up to the parole board. We don’t have any control over there.
“I just feel like it was a fair ending. The families on the other side needed closure too. (Buttrey) wants to move on with his life.”
Somervell County assistant district attorneys Martin Strahan and Larry Chambless prosecuted the case.
“The families of both victims looked at (the case) and decided it was the best way to go,” Chambless said. “It was an extremely difficult decision to make. The families needed closure and the opportunity to move on with their lives.”
While Buttrey pleaded guilty, not all family members feel justice was served.
“Just because he’s been convicted doesn’t mean it’s over for us,” Heading said. “Casey Tiner’s family wants justice. The victims’ families feel they have been cheated - Casey’s family feels like they have been cheated.”
Chambless said the case was a difficult one.
“My heart goes out to the victim’s families,” he said.