Man gets five life sentences

Published 9:35 pm Monday, September 28, 2009

NORFOLK — Michael Donnell Butts, age 52, of Suffolk, was sentenced today in Norfolk federal court to five life terms in prison for conspiring to retaliate against and preventing the testimony of federal witnesses, resulting in death.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, made the announcement after Butts was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. Doumar.

According to court documents, the conspiracy resulted in the shooting death of Junior Bivins Jr., of Suffolk, in November 2001. At the time, Bivins was free on bond and awaiting sentencing in Norfolk federal court after pleading guilty to drug charges. Butts recruited an another man to kill Bivins, who was thought to be cooperating in a federal criminal investigation. On Nov. 20, 2001, Butts transported the co-conspirator to a street near Bivins’ Suffolk home and provided the man with a firearm to carry out the murder. Bivins was shot in the front yard of his home and died at the scene. The other man fled, and Butts drove him from the area. Two other witnesses also were targeted. One was shot and stabbed in Hopewell, and another was shot in the face in Petersburg, both in the summer of 2001. Butts arranged all three attacks, and hired others to accomplish them. The shooter in the Bivins case was paid $1,000.

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This case was investigated by the Norfolk Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration and by the Suffolk Police Department cold case unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura M. Everhart prosecuted the case for the United States.