Murder trial set for March

Published 8:56 am Friday, November 6, 2009

COURTLAND—Pre-trial motions were held in Southampton County Circuit Court for Rockne Butler, one of two North Carolina men accused of murdering a man in his home on South High Street, then fleeing and shooting at police in January.

A jury trial has been scheduled for Butler, a 39-year-old from Pantego, N.C., at 9:30 a.m. on March 2.

Butler and another man, 29-year-old Dennis Leon Blount of Washington, N.C., face charges of first degree murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling, use of a firearm in the commission of a murder, abduction, use of a firearm in the commission of an abduction, attempted breaking and entering, and use of a firearm in the commission of attempted breaking and entering.

A jury trial for Blount has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 11.

The men are accused of slaying Brad Harris, 27, who was killed after a gunman fired a single shot into his bedroom from outside his home at 509 S. High St. on the morning of Jan. 23. He was shot in the torso and died at the scene.

Butler pleaded not guilty on July 9. Blount entered the same plea on Sept. 22.

Blount faces additional charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and felony eluding police. Meanwhile, Butler faces additional charges of attempted capital murder and use of a firearm in the commission of attempted capital murder.

The men have been held at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk without bond since their arrest on the afternoon of Jan. 23, after they led police on a high-speed chase through Franklin and ultimately crashed into a home on North High Street.

At the time of their arrest, police said a sport utility vehicle used by Butler and Blount in the high-speed chase was the same SUV seen by authorities earlier that day parked in front of Harris’ home. The Tidewater News also coincidentally photographed the SUV shortly after police arrived to investigate the Harris shooting.

Harris, his girlfriend, and Harris’ 3-year-old daughter were all in the home at the time of the shooting. During the ensuing high-speed chase, the men fired a gun at police. No one was injured by the shots that were fired or the high-speed chase.