A 34-year-old Fort Myers man was charged with driving under the influence and killing two young children near Fort Myers beach on January 14, 2007. The residing judge on this case decided to delay the outcome of this case until recently.
George Butler, the convicted murderer, pleaded no contest this month to charges related to the accident that killed Jordy Martinez, a 1-year-old, and Jesus Martinez, a 6-year-old. Their older brother, mother, and a friend were also injured in the accident.
This past Friday, Steinbeck listened to three hours of testimony from both families, most of whom cried on the stand. Butler faces 2 years to life in prison based on a calculation of the severity of the injuries and number of charges.
“This is every parent’s worse nightmare,” Assistant State Attorney Marie Doerr told Steinbeck on Monday. “It’s beyond their worst nightmare. We have two children here.”
Butler’s attorney, Sean O’Halloran of Fort Myers, argued that Butler has shown remorse because he’s pleading no contest to the 12 charges he faces instead of going to trial. He also argued that Butler has no prior criminal history.
“The greatest show of his remorse is that he stood up in the face of a life sentence and said, ‘I did it,'” O’Halloran argued. “He’s saying, ‘I’m pleading because I’m guilty and I’m sorry.’ He doesn’t want to put anyone through anything else. He’s done enough to this family.”
Butler’s attorney also urged Steinbeck not to just look at the possible range of sentence without considering this specific case.
“There’s no way it can just be math. And the only way to avoid that is to have the thought and analysis and the job you have to do,” he said. “He’s got to go to prison, I recognize that. But he doesn’t need to go for 30.”
An update to this story, George Butler was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $14 million to the family. Read more here.