An Alabama man has been sentenced to 55 years in prison in the shooting death and robbery of an Orangeburg County man after the dead man’s brother survived gunshots and identified the assailant, prosecutors said.
A Lexington County jury convicted Justin Antonio Butler, 25, of Muscle Shoals, Ala., of murder in 2014 the slaying of Tycus M. Toland, 29, of North, and the attempted murder of VonKeith Toland, 35, of Pelion, the 11th Circuit Solicitor’s office said Monday in a statement.
Butler and an accomplice, Terry McClure, who is from Fairfield, Calif., answered the older brother’s ad on Craigslist to sell a used car, prosecutors said. Butler also goes by the name Jona McCoy.
On April 24, 2014, Butler went to Atlanta where he picked up McClure. They rented a car and drove to South Carolina to meet with the Toland brothers. They followed them to VonKeith Toland’s Pelion home to see the car.
The elder Toland testified that McClure suddenly pulled a gun as they were discussing a purchase. He shot his brother in the back of the head, killing him instantly, prosecutors said.
Co-defendant McClure then turned the gun on VonKeith Toland and shot him several times. The older brother dragged himself under his home while Butler, who also was armed, and McClure ransacked the residence, VonKeith Toland testified during a four-day trial. He waited until the gunmen left, then dragged himself to his car and call 911.
VonKeith Toland spent weeks in the hospital in critical condition.
Butler and McClure were were arrested a couple weeks after the incident.
Butler and McClure used prepaid burner phones to communicate, prosecutors said. Butler bought a phone about a month before the shooting and used it sparingly until the days before the shooting, they said.
Phone records included a text from an unknown person in Greenwood who asked Butler if he needed a “Hamma to fix it or nah.” Experts testified that “hamma” meant handgun. Butler’s answer was “most likely.”
Once in the elder Toland’s home, the intruders took a security system DVR they left, returning to their respective home states.
McClure is being extradited from California to face the charges in Lexington County.
Initially, Butler told investigators he had never been to South Carolina and knew nothing about the incident. In taking the stand during the trial, however, Butler said he went to VonKeith Toland’s home but he was in the rental car when he heard gunfire. McClure returned to the car but Butler said he did not question what had happened, prosecutors said of Butler’s testimony.
Butler has a pending murder charge in Alabama, prosecutors said. He also was convicted of first-degree burglary and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Judge Knox McMahon handed down the sentence.