Firm News

Judge Ponders Man's Fate in Fatal DUI Crash That Claimed Lives of Two Young Sons

Note: Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, represents the Bustamante family in their personal injury/wrongful death lawsuit.

Fort Myers man could get life for two DUI deaths
Defendant is borderline mentally retarded

BY PAT GILLESPIE
pgillespie@news-press.com
Copyright The News-Press
 December 16, 2008

Jesus MartinezThe state is asking Lee Circuit Judge Margaret Steinbeck to be stern. A defense attorney is asking for leniency.

Steinbeck gave herself until Jan. 26 to decide the fate of George Butler, 34, a Fort Myers man charged with driving drunk and killing two young brothers near Fort Myers Beach on Jan. 14, 2007.

Butler pleaded no contest Friday to 12 charges related to the accident that killed Jordy Martinez, 1, and Jesus Martinez, 6. Also injured were their older brother, mother and a friend of the mother.

On Friday, Steinbeck listened to three hours of testimony from both families, most of whom cried on the stand. Butler faces 30 1/2 years to life in prison based on a calculation of the severity of the injuries and number of charges.

Jordy Martinez"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."

She asked Steinbeck to stick to the sentencing guidelines.

"No one will know the hell that this family will go through and has gone through," Doerr said. "Judge, I'm asking you to not allow him to do this to another family."

But 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.

Because of that, O'Halloran argued, Steinbeck should go below the guidelines, which is permissible by law.


George Butler"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 suffers from bi-polar disorder and his IQ is 75 - five points higher than what is considered mental retardation. O'Halloran didn't argue that Butler isn't guilty, but that Butler should be fairly punished.

"The choices he made he doesn't deny. He made these choices as a man who is borderline mentally retarded," O'Halloran said. "The truth of the justice in this is somewhere in between. It's not 30 years. It's not let him out tomorrow. It's somewhere in between."

O'Halloran 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."

Client Reviews
Bruce L. Scheiner and his team were the most friendly people I've ever met they genuinely cared about me... I highly recommend them
★★★★★
I was really satisfied with services I received. Bruce is not only an attorney, but like family. He got me three times what I thought I would receive and was always there when I needed an answer on something. I'd say he is the best attorney I have dealt with in my 68 years. Harry Zulauf
★★★★★
I found working with the BLS firm to be a very good experience. They kept me informed on my case, answered all my questions, and were prompt when I needed assistance. Wendy Walker
★★★★★
I was in an accident and BLS was very helpful and gave a lot of support. If I had any questions, it was just a phone call away. Everyone in the office is very nice and helpful. Celeste Thompson
★★★★★
We had a wonderful experience with everyone here. The staff and attorneys were friendly, knowledgeable, and compassionate. They inquired about our injuries and our recovery. I would highly recommend their services! Heather Bair Daniels
★★★★★
I have nothing but good things to say about this law firm. I can honestly say that I am very satisfied with their work and my end results. I would absolutely recommend these set of attorneys to anyone. Thank you guys for all the hard work! Merida McDonald
★★★★★
BLS was incredibly helpful with my case, even during the hard challenging periods of my case Bruce & PJ were always just a call away. Even though they couldn't answer my call at that direct moment, they ALWAYS made a point to call me back. The staff at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner were always helpful and friendly, if they didn't have the answer they would always call me back with what I needed to know. Robert Drawdy
★★★★★