Joseph Spinks Sentenced to 16 Years for Murder

Joseph Spinks was sentenced last month to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder and obstruction of justice in the killing of 29-year-old Delonte Butler.

According to court records, around 3:00 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2010, Spinks shot Butler in the face with a rifle while Butler was sitting inside a vehicle in the 3700 block of First Street Southeast, and the car drifted off the road and collided with a tree. Spinks then met up with his co-defendent, Phillip Crooms, and asked him if he wanted to “see a dead body.”

According to a proffer of facts signed by Crooms, he and Spinks walked to the car and stole Butler’s wallet and some jeans. They then went to Spinks’ girlfriend’s apartment, where they decided they should return to the car to light it on fire in order to destroy the evidence of their crime. Spinks found a bottle of rubbing alcohol and gave it to Crooms, who went back to the car with the intention of lighting it on fire. But he returned a short time after and told Spinks that he wouldn’t torch the vehicle and that Spinks should do it. Crooms watched as Spinks then walked to the vehicle, poured the rubbing alcohol on it, and set it on fire.

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

Crooms pled guilty in March to robbery, obstruction of justice, and malicious burning. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Spinks was also sentenced to 5 years for obstruction of justice, but that time will be served concurrently with his other sentence. His 16-year sentence for murder includes time already served in D.C. jail.

Note: Due to staffing, Homicide Watch DC did not publish between mid-August and mid-October. This is among the cases we are going back to cover and we apologize for the delay in publishing.

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