Tellico Village man acquitted in fatal 2010 shooting

By Lance Coleman

Originally published 03:25 p.m., September 19, 2012
Updated 07:00 p.m., September 19, 2012

LOUDON A Loudon County jury late this afternoon found Norman Whitton not guilty of second-degree murder.

The 71-year-old was charged in Loudon County Criminal Court in connection with the shooting death of 74-year-old Larry Butcher on April 15, 2010 in Tellico Village, a retirement village where both men resided.

Whitton told Loudon County Sheriff's investigators at the time of the incident he was driving on Toqua Road when he honked his horn at Butcher, who was driving a golf cart.

According to Whitton, Butcher swung his golf cart around to the side of Whitton's stopped car, jumped off, reached through the open window and choked Whitton before Whitton pulled his .38-caliber handgun and shot him.

Jurors returned the verdict after deliberating about two hours. Neither family wished to comment and both sat quietly on either side of the courtroom waiting afterward for the jury to leave the building.

The defense chose not to present witnesses today and rested its case after the state rested its case against Whitton.

Butcher died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, a forensic pathologist testified.

In his closing argument, Nichols said people honk their car horns all the time but do not expect to be attacked.

"You have to ask yourself, what would I do if someone stuck their hands through my window?"

Nichols said all the evidence showed Butcher was intoxicated, and because the trajectory of the bullet was down, it showed he was leaning into the window.

Regarding self-defense, Nichols said the question jurors had to consider was whether it was reasonable to believe Whitton feared for his life.

"There is a presumption if someone attacks you in your car or house, you are in fear for your life," he said.

Nichols said state law dictates that evidence is produced of self-defense, the burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Norman Whitton did not act in self-defense.

The jury got the case shortly before 4 p.m., and began deliberating.

More details as they develop online and in the Thursday News Sentinel.