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Man, 21, arrested in 2008 murder in Clearwater

Clearwater police investigate the scene of a crash on May 19, 2008. Arthur Bennett, 62, hit a tree with his car after he was shot. Police say Butler pulled the trigger.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2008)

Clearwater police investigate the scene of a crash on May 19, 2008. Arthur Bennett, 62, hit a tree with his car after he was shot. Police say Butler pulled the trigger.

CLEARWATER — Police have concluded a 15-month murder investigation by arresting a man already serving time on drug charges in the Lake City Correctional Facility.

Joshua N. Butler, 21, of 1229 Stockton Drive is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the May 19, 2008, shooting death of 62-year-old Arthur Bennett, Clearwater police said Monday.

Detectives say Butler, walking along Douglas Avenue, argued with and then shot Bennett as he drove beside him. Bennett, of Clearwater, struck a tree and died at the scene as he attempted to flee. It's not clear what the two men were arguing about.

Court documents show that one witness was able to put Butler at the scene that morning. Another told a detective that Butler admitted to him to shooting Bennett, although in self-defense.

When interviewed by the detective, Butler said he shot after Bennett "threatened him with a firearm," the court documents show.

But police did not find a weapon in or near Bennett's car.

Butler said he later threw his gun off the Courtney Campbell Parkway.

Butler was sentenced to 16 months in prison in September 2008 on charges of possessing and selling cocaine. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and had his driver's license revoked for two years in April 2007 for violating his probation on a previous cocaine possession charge.

He has been transferred to the Pinellas County Jail to await trial.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes or (727) 445-4157.

Man, 21, arrested in 2008 murder in Clearwater 08/24/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 24, 2009 7:23pm]
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