Medical Examiner Says Shooting and Fire Both Contributed to Delonte Butler’s Death

Phillip Crooms was ordered held today after Judge Lynn Leibovitz found probable cause to believe that Crooms was involved in lighting a fire that contributed to the death of Delonte Butler in Sept. 2010.

A preliminary hearing was begun in early August, but only concluded today with testimony from Dr. Lois Goslinoski, a DC medical examiner.

According to charging documents, prosecutors believe that Butler was shot inside of a vehicle by a man with a shotgun. Immediately following the shooting, the car collided with a tree. Crooms, suspected of felony murder, is not suspected of taking part in the shooting, but instead of handing suspect Joseph Spinks a bottle of rubbing alcohol in order to light the car on fire and destroy evidence of the shooting, charging documents allege.

In the earlier hearing, Judge Leibovitz asked prosecutors to clarify whether Butler was killed by the shooting or the fire.

On Monday, Dr. Goslinoski said it was impossible to separate the two types of injuries. Either injury, independent of the either, could have been deadly, she said.

With that information, Leibovitz found probable cause in the case against Crooms and ordered him held. A status hearing is set for Dec. 9.

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