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Trial set for man charged in Grant police chief slaying

GUNTERSVILLE (AP) — A judge set a Sept. 17 trial date for a young man charged with capital murder in the 2003 shooting death of Grant Police Chief Verlon Lemaster.

Trial for Brian Butler, who was 17 at the time of the murder, has been moved from Marshall County to St. Clair County because of publicity.

Marshall County Circuit Judge Tim Jolley, who will preside at the trial, set the date Thursday.

If convicted, he will be sentenced to life in prison without parole, said District Attorney Steve Marshall.

At Thursday’s hearing, a shackled Butler sat next to his attorney, Bruce Gardner of Huntsville. His mother, Lisa Webb, sat behind them.

A trial date for co-defendant Jerid Eldridge, also 17 when Lemaster was slain Aug. 15, 2003, has not been set.

According to authorities, the two teens were hiding in a closet of a Grant home when police arrived to pick up Butler as a runaway.

Butler came out of the closet and allegedly fired a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol several times, striking Lemaster twice, killing him, authorities said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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