EATONTON, Ga. - A gang member was sentenced to 40 years with the first 20 of them to be served in prison after he pleaded guilty to assorted criminal charges in Putnam County Superior Court on Monday.
The sentence was handed down from Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Terry N. Massey to Torleados Darvell Butler.
The defendant entered what was described as a non-negotiated guilty plea to charges of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon during a crime, and Violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, according to Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney T. Wright Barksdale.
Jury selection was expected to begin Tuesday in Butler’s trial as to those charges, as well as three other felony charges, but following pre-trial motions Monday morning, Butler opted to plead guilty to three of the six charges against him as opposed to going to trial, Barksdale said.
When Massey imposed the sentence, Butler stood beside his court-appointed defense attorney, Timothy L. Lam, of Monticello.
“Once Mr. Butler expressed an interest in entering a guilty plea, I told Mr. Lam and the court that I would withdraw the recidivous motion,” Barksdale said.
The judge told Butler he would spend the first 20 of the 40-year sentence in confinement with the remaining 20 years to be served on probation with special conditions.
One of the stipulations Massey placed on Butler for the term of his probation following his prison time was that he cannot have any contact of any kind or character with any member or associate of a criminal street gang, or participate in any criminal gang activity, and he cannot have any contact with the victim or member of the victim’s family related to this case.
Massey also banished Butler from the eight-county Omulgee Judicial Circuit.
“The state asked for 40, serve 25, but we’re more than happy with what Judge Massey’s sentence was in this case,” Barksdale said.
A Putnam County grand jury returned a six-count indictment against Butler during the March Term this year. And on Oct. 8, Butler entered a not guilty plea to all of those charges during an arraignment proceeding, according to court records.
Grand jurors indicted Butler in connection with crimes related to a Dec. 25, 2018 shooting that happened at a residence in Montgomery Homes, a government housing project in Eatonton. Specifically, Butler was charged with aggravated assault after he took out a .9-mm pistol and fired it at Tremaube Farley.
The victim managed to escape being hit by one of the bullets.
“They lured him (Farley) outside the project housing residence and fired off multiple rounds with a 9-mm pistol,” Barksdale said. “We believe we would have been able to show that because Mr. Farley was claiming to be a member of the Piru Blood Gang, but in actuality was not a gang member.”
The assistant district attorney said that was the motive for the shooting.
Police recovered two shell casings at the crime scene, but never recovered the gun used in the shooting.
At the time the shooting took place, there were more than 30 children playing outside on Christmas Day, Barksdale said.
“Anyone of them could have been hurt,” Barksdale said. “It’s just a miracle none of them were injured.”
Following the shooting, Butler and his half-brother, Cedric Williams, quickly left the residence in Butler’s white Dodge Avenger and subsequently were involved in a car chase with Eatonton Police Officer Harold “Buddy” Bowman. The chase which went along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive got up to speeds 20 mph above the posted speed limit.
The car chase ended a short time later when both men “bush bonded” from the car and fled into a wooded area, Barksdale said.
Williams, who was caught the following day by authorities, and was charged with aggravated assault in connection with the case, pleaded guilty to that charge earlier this year. Williams was sentenced to 20 years with the first 10 of those years to be served in prison. He is now serving his time at Reidsville State Prison.
Butler, who has several convictions in Morgan County, meanwhile, was actually on the run and became a fugitive for nine months. Earlier this year, members of the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force in Macon arrested him somewhere in the metro-Atlanta area, Barksdale said.
“I’m proud of the work that law enforcement officers did in this case, specifically, Eatonton Police Department Investigator Howell Cardwell and Officer Buddy Bowman,” Barksdale said. “Both of them did an outstanding job in this case.”
Barksdale said there was a message that the district attorney’s office wanted to send to the people of Putnam County.
“If we can prove that people who are committing crimes in furtherance of gang activity, we are are going to pursue them and we’re going to prosecute them as hard as we possibly can, because we truly believe if we don’t get out in front of this issue that it’s going to become really difficult to overcome if we were to get inundated with it,” Barksdale said.
He added that District Attorney Stephen A. Bradley along with him and the other assistant district attorneys within the circuit were going to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.