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Slow movement in RVing couple’s homicide

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
It’s been a long year since the death of RVing couple James and Michelle Butler. Readers were shocked and saddened when the couple was found buried in a shallow grave on Padre Island, Texas, last year. The Butlers were first reported missing in October 2019, and four days after relatives became concerned, a Texas lawman found the RVing couple’s homicide resting place.

Relatives reported James and Michelle as missing on October 23. On reviewing security camera footage, authorities spotted the Butlers’ Chevy Silverado, towing their trailer through a U.S./Mexico border crossing. The driver was a man, and clearly not James Butler. The crossing into Mexico was made October 21 – two days before the missing couple’s remains were found.

Suspects arrested

A few weeks later, in early November, reports surfaced that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the case. In a combined Mexico/U.S. operation, police arrested Adam Curtis Williams, a Utah resident, in Jalisco, Mexico. Also picked up, another Utah resident, Amanda Noverr. The pair was taken back to Texas, and they were booked into separate facilities.

While it took only a matter of weeks from the discovery of the RVing couple’s homicide to the booking of suspects, the lever of “justice” got moved to the slow position. It wasn’t until late in January 2020 that anything new transpired in the drama. At that time a Kleberg County, Texas, grand jury handed down indictments against Williams and Noverr.

For those expecting a murder-related charge, there was disappointment. The grand jury came back with charges of theft of the pickup, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, and tampering with physical evidence – the last charge because they were aware a murder had taken place when they “intentionally and knowingly” buried the bodies of the Butlers. Their purpose: to impair the investigation.

The prosecutor in the case said something needed to be done. The accused couple was coming up on the 90-day mark of confinement. Had they not received some sort of indictment, then they could be released on “reasonable bond.” But the prosecutors felt they had a solid case and didn’t want either of the defendants walking away from a cell. At the time, the press was told the state felt it was ready for trial, and that both would stay behind bars “until the case is resolved.”

Blame it on COVID

More than six months after their deaths, the Butlers’ families must have been wondering when justice might get rolling. Prosecutors said, “Coronavirus.” In May of this year, District Attorney John T. Hubert told the media that the crime lab had been running slow before the pandemic. With the virus rolling into town, office staff had been reduced, and as far as DNA testing was concerned, the D.A. said, “Sometimes the process isn’t as fast as we’d like it.”

Finally, another grand jury has acted. Williams, now age 34, and Noverr, 33, have been indicted for first-degree capital murder, having “knowingly caused the death of James and Michelle Butler by shooting them with a firearm.” Had Williams managed to bail out on the Texas charges earlier, it’s doubtful he’d have gone too far – at least as a free man. Two charges are pending against him in back in Utah: a first-degree sexual assault charge, and a first-degree felony aggravated assault case.

With an indictment now made, where does the RVing couple’s homicide case go now? A Texas judge has issued a gag order – not uncommon for the small county. With a population of just 30,000 people, the jury pool is small, and nobody wants a tainted jury. With the gag order in place, not a great deal can be said about the case specifically. The county D.A. says “some” jury trials are being scheduled after the turn of the year. But again, coronavirus is slapping sticky stuff in the wheels of justice. Most proceedings are being held via teleconference, slowing things down.

All that is really known at this point is what little the county clerk’s office had to say about the case against Adam Williams and Amanda Noverr: It is yet to be scheduled.

Photo: James and Michelle Butler, alicia_C_ on twitter.com

Related: 

Missing RVers found dead, ruled homicide
Breaking News: Suspect in Padre Island RVers murders arrested
Six months after Texas RV murder arrests – What now?

##RVT978b

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dcook
11 months ago

Well at least they don’t look like the type that can hire a platinum defense lawyer that makes money beating the system . They would probably end up in the hands of an overloaded appointed tax paid defender and end up behind bars for life. In Texas, you don’t get the death penalty for the crime you committed, you have another court date that decides if you are going to be “a threat to prison officials or other inmates”, if so, you get the death penalty, if not, life in a cage. Maybe their parents spanked them….or maybe their parents didn’t spank them!

Tony Rodriguez
11 months ago

I was waiting for long time for news about this case because we spent a week exactly at that place one week before that happened ,we even have photos of the place. We were in shock when the news came out with the murders, there is a place to camp but gets way to dark at night always some drunk people coming from a bar near by so if anybody is going to stay around there be carefull,.that couple is goin to pay for that crime, I feel confident they will pay because texas dont play around when it comes to capital murder executions (Huntsville tx) have execute must of the low life criminals..

Thomas D
11 months ago

Old,old saying. The wheels of Justice turn slowly:
Sad but true.
I thought that the bill of rights says a speedy trial.

Defiant077
11 months ago

I strongly suggest in the interest of their posts being factual and unbiased that they do some research on the courts and how capital murder cases go to trial and how long that it can take. Some apparent clear cut cases can take years before they ever go to court.

While these two are clearly deserving of a death sentence our system of justice demands their right to a fair trial. Cases of this type also take time to investigate, gather all evidence, process the evidence. This is not to mention autopsies, blood work, forensics. Then there is witness gathering, interviews, jurisdictional requirements. All this takes time and a lot of work. It is not like you see on CSI or any of those fake crime dramas.

You also have postponements, motions for delays from prosecutors and defense lawyers, etc. In other words just do your homework and it will make your article so much better reading.

John C Jackson
11 months ago
Reply to  Defiant077

Let’s all be thankful that they are still in custody (or bonded to show up) to find out if they should go to trial. Next year in California, that may not be the case. The Butler’s family needs to be able to find justice.

Bob_B
11 months ago

What a nothing story. First of all, the victims were not found in a “homicide resting place,” they were found in a grave. Second, how long does the author think that it typically takes to get an indictment, especially in a capital murder case?

The initial grand jury empanelment was very likely affected by the 2019 Christmas and New Year holidays, and everything else since then has been affected by the pandemic. It’s highly unusual in any circumstances for a murder case to go to trial in under a year, and there is a gag order in effect on this case in any event.

It’s more important that the facts and circumstances be investigated thoroughly and that the killers be convicted and punished than that there be a rush to judgement. It sounds as if the prosecutors are working on building an airtight case. Please let them do their jobs.

Snayte
11 months ago
Reply to  Bob_B

I found the article to be a welcome update. Thanks RV Travel

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
11 months ago
Reply to  Snayte

Thanks, Snayte. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com

want2racer
11 months ago
Reply to  Snayte

I did as well. It at least said what is happening and looks as tho the wheels of progress and justice might be slow they are at least turning.

Uncle Swags
11 months ago

Sounds like a virtual lynching is in order. Death penalty is certainly justified and will guarantee society is safe from these two repugnant animals.

BirdsGoToo
11 months ago

Aren’t they already in jail awaiting trial? Isn’t the point of going to trial to put them in jail/prison? They’re already not free to harm others. After the trial they’ll just be moved to another jail/prison cell. I’d say the justice, though not through a judge and jury, is being served already.

Ron G.
11 months ago

Does Texas have the death penalty?

DPHooper
11 months ago
Reply to  Ron G.

Yes

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
11 months ago
Reply to  Ron G.

Yes. —Diane at RVtravel.com

littleleftie
11 months ago

Let us keep hoping for justice to be served and this couple sent away for a very long time for their heinous crime.

Brenda G
11 months ago
Reply to  littleleftie

“An eye for an eye” should be both of their sentence. Defending one’s own life is acceptable but taking a life for personal gain is reprehensible and deserves the ultimate sentence.

John
11 months ago
Reply to  Brenda G

I agree, Brenda

PennyPA
11 months ago
Reply to  John

And I, too. They should be publicly hanged. I think that’s one of the problems with today’s society…no consequences for actions.

But now I will change the subject: whatever happened re: the couple, I believe from Canada, and as I remember, their rv was found, burned. but they never were found. Did I miss the ending of this story?

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
11 months ago
Reply to  PennyPA

As far as I can tell, Penny, the bodies of Lyle and Marie McCann were never found. Travis Vader was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to life in prison. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Gene Bjerke
11 months ago
Reply to  Brenda G

The problem with the death penalty is that after the first murder, the rest are on the house.