10 Year Sentence for “Malicious Burning” Plea in Murder Case

Phillip Crooms was sentenced Wednesday to ten years in prison for his role in a robbery that left 29-year-old Delonte Butler dead.

According to court records, prosecutors believe that Butler was shot by a rifle while inside of a vehicle by Croom’s co-defendant, Joseph Spinks. Immediately following the shooting, the car collided with a tree. Charging documents alleged that Crooms handed Spinks a bottle of rubbing alcohol in order to light the car on fire and destroy evidence of the shooting.

At a preliminary hearing a medical examiner testified that either the shooting or the fire could have independently killed Butler.

Crooms was arrested in May 2011 on suspicion of first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty in March 2012 to robbery, obstruction of justice, and destruction of property- malicious burning.

The sentence handed down by Judge Ronna Beck was comprised of a five year sentence on the robbery charge, a five year sentence of the obstruction charge, and a 180 day sentence on the charge of destruction of property. The last sentence will be counted concurrent to the other charges, totaling ten years in prison.

Spinks is due in court June 29 for a status hearing.

Plea documents are below.

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