Mississippi Teen Charged With Murder But Not Hate Crime in Hit-and-Run Death

The victim’s son says, “They ran him over because he was black.”

Last July 61-year-old Johnny Lee Butts, an African-American man was hit and killed while taking his regular morning walk in Panola County, Mississippi. The driver of the vehicle, Matthew “Whit” Darby, a white teenager has been charged with murder and is awaiting trial. What makes this case significant however, is not the fact that Darby was driving drunk, or even the fact that he hit Butts and then fled. What makes this case important is the fact that although Darby has been charged with murder, he has not been charged with a hate crime.

The local DA claims there is not a single piece of evidence that points to this crime being racially motivated, but testimony from one of the passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident, and an in-depth investigation by CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin paints a very different picture.

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About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.

Comments

  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    testimony from one of the passengers. Testimony means in court. So the prosecutor has it, right? Or not? If not, it’s not testimony, it’s an allegation and allegations have to be credible. Is it credible? I recall an alleged rape at Duke based on a lot of allegations. Only one who went to jail was the prosecutor.
    Problem with charging hate crime in a case like this is that it brings up the issue of prosecutorial discretion. Such as no hate crime in, say, the Knoxville Horror, one of the worst crimes of which you have never heard.
    The penalties for various kinds of murder are tough enough–or not, YMMV–but adding “hate” is meaningless. Not to mention bringing up embarrassing questions of its application here, or there.

    • Kathryn DeHoyos says:

      It is in both the original police report and in the Grand Jury testimony that Mr. Darby saw that he was black and swerved intentionally while accelerating, he never touched his breaks or took his foot off the gas. Mr. Butts was hit so hard the windshield caved in, one of his legs was almost completely severed and he landed over 170 feet from where the initial impact occurred. After they hit him Mr. Darby stopped the car, they got out and looked at the body, and then drove away.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Kathryn.
    “intentionally” is subjective. Not braking is not racist, it’s either drunk, evil, or stupid. Where is the evidence that, had the pedestrian been white, nothing would have happened?
    Driving away after looking at the body is wrong. But we need evidence that he’d have tried first aid, or called 911 or something if they guy’d been white.
    But, anyway, one way or another, adding “hate” to the thing is meaningless. In fact, it’s a negative. For example, in the Knoxville case, to make it not a hate crime, you have to say, “they just like to do that stuff, do it to anybody”, which i don’t think would be considered an improvement.

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