Andre Dula, the suspect in , attended a preliminary hearing today at which the victim's brother told the court that Dula had chased after the victim with a gun.
Dula is charged with first degree murder, third degree murder and related charges.
Assistant District Attorney, John Walko, called two witnesses during the hearing, both of whom were at the scene on July 17: Kevin Butler, the brother of victim William Benjamin “Ben” Butler, and Chappell Washington-Freer, a friend of William Butler.
Kevin Butler was a backseat passenger in the vehicle that . He testified that they were out looking for Dula and when they spotted him walking near the North Hills train station, William Butler said, “There he is, right there,” and then jumped out of the still-moving car.
Kevin Butler testified that he saw his brother throw a punch at Dula, but wasn't sure if it landed. He then watched as William Butler turned and ran away from Dula. He said he saw Dula chase William, and as Dula approached the bottom of the hill on other side of the underpass, he witnessed Dula reach for something at his hip, then continued to chase William up the hill with his arm extended holding a firearm.
He said he heard three rapid shots in succession and then saw Dula run in the opposite direction from which he was originally walking.
Washington-Freer said she was driving a car also looking for Dula and testified that there were three vehicles in all that were out together in search of Dula that evening, all driving together.
She testified, through her tears, that she pulled in behind the car in which William Butler was riding, but then continued on and made a U-turn in the train station parking lot and stopped her car near Station Rd. She said when she stopped, she saw William Butler and Dula running. “Ben was getting chased,” she said.
She said she saw Dula reach for something in his waistband and at that point she closed her eyes because she was scared, but heard three shots fired.
The next thing she said she heard was something drop on the backseat of her car and when she turned around it was William Butler, who had been shot.
“I was just seeing blood,” said Washington-Freer.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Montgomery County Coroner Walter Hofman said the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the back. Hofman ruled the death was a homicide.
Detectives on the case checked the firearms license of Dula and records showed that Dula did not possess a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm and is not eligible for a license to carry.
Defense attorney John I. McMahon, Jr., asked Magisterial District Judge Juanita Price to dismiss the first degree murder charge, as Dula did not have intent to kill and because he was approached by three cars full of people who were looking for him.
However, Walko, who represents the state in this case, argued that intent to kill can be formed in an instant.
McMahon told Patch after the hearing that Dula's defense team intends on taking this case to trial and arguing that Dula’s actions were in self defense.
He said he was disappointed that the first degree murder charges were not dismissed today and that Dula plans to plead not guilty.
Walko told Patch that the victim was running away from the scene and was shot in the back, so it’s not a self defense case.