Murder nets 28 years in prison

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, March 9, 2011


COURTLAND—A Washington, N.C., man will serve 28 years in prison for his part in the murder of a Franklin man in January 2009 and was ordered to pay $29,364 in restitution.

Judge Westbrook Parker sentenced Dennis Leon Blount on Tuesday for the shooting of Brad “Pug” Harris of South High Street. Rockne Butler of Pantego, N.C., is serving life for the murder.

Blount in June pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, abduction and felony eluding. The latter charge relates to the duo leading police on a high-speed chase, as well as the charge that Butler fired a shot at an officer.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke described the crime as “quite disturbing…quite chilling.” While he stated that Blount has made some attempt to make amends through his testimony against Butler, Cooke described the man as having “a violent past.”

Blount’s attorney, Tom Watkins, acknowledged “it was a terrible crime,” but stated that Butler, not Blount, had returned fire during the police pursuit. His client was trying to get out of the situation, not to elude the authorities.

Further, Blount has proven “a very valuable witness.”

“Not only has he severed ties (with criminal elements), but has given information on gangs within the penitentiary, where he already served for two years,” Watkins said. “Sure he did it to help himself, but it was never premeditated murder.”

Watkins requested 10 years for his client.

Cooke countered that Harris was not the only victim; his girlfriend and 3-year-old daughter were at home.

Parker noted that Blount’s record shows three separate past issues, including inciting a riot, robbery and attempted abduction. With this inconsideration, he handed down the sentence.