Judge made the right decision

Published 12:14 pm Saturday, July 31, 2010

Southampton County Circuit Court Judge E. Preston Grissom on Wednesday made the right decision in refusing to grant convicted murderer Rockne Butler a new trial.

Within a week after Butler, 40, was sent to prison for life for the 2009 shooting death of Brad Harris, 26, of Franklin, new evidence surfaced.

That evidence came from Jonquil L. Baker, who in June was sent to prison for 4½ years for his role in gang activities in Suffolk.

Baker claimed he was in the room at Western Tidewater Regional Jail when Butler admitted to the jail barber that he killed Harris. The barber testified before a jury about Butler’s confession.

Baker, however, said he never heard Butler admit to the murder in front of the barber. Thus, the new evidence.

Now, whom are you going to believe? The barber, or a man serving time for a crime in the jail. Not to say that everyone who works behind bars is honest.

Baker is only 18, yet a prosecutor called him “a serious offender” who’s a danger in or out of jail.

A Western Tidewater Regional Jail security officer testified during Baker’s sentencing that Baker committed seven rule violations at the jail while waiting for his case to be resolved.

The judge, who questioned Baker’s credibility, also saved the county the cost of prosecuting Butler again.