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Arlee teen charged with deliberate homicide

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ARLEE — Nathan Butler, a 16-year-old Arlee resident, has been charged in Lake County District Court in the stabbing death of his 51-year-old stepfather and with injuring his mother and another man Nov. 12.

Butler is charged with deliberate homicide, attempted deliberate homicide, and assault with a weapon, all felonies. If convicted, deliberate homicide and attempted deliberate homicide carry maximum sentences of life in prison, and assault with a weapon carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. 

Deputy County Attorney James Lapotka said Butler has been charged in Lake County District Court. During a transfer hearing scheduled for Dec. 12, Butler’s attorneys may argue that he should be transferred to a youth court. 

District Court has set an omnibus hearing for Jan. 30 at 9 a.m. A jury trial will commence April 15. 

As Lake County has no juvenile detention center, Butler remains in Missoula County Juvenile Detention on a $250,000 bond.

According to court documents, officers responded to a 911 call reporting a stabbing in Arlee around 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 12. Emergency personnel found John Fisher, Butler’s stepfather, unresponsive and pronounced him dead at the scene. Butler’s mother, Dacia Vollin, had been stabbed several times and was transported to St. Patrick’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries. She remained in the hospital for several days before she was released.

A third stabbing victim, Theodore Perry, was also transported to St. Patrick’s Hospital. He was treated and released the same day. 

Butler was apprehended in Arlee about two hours after the stabbing. According to Lake County Undersheriff Daniel Yonkin, Butler was found and arrested in a garage south of Fisher’s residence on Laughing Louis Adams Lane. Officers obtained consent from the structure’s owner and conducted two searches. The first search resulted in Butler’s arrest. Yonkin could not comment on what officers found during the second search. 

Butler was transported to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office where he was interviewed by Lake County Sheriff’s detectives after waiving his right to an attorney. Butler has since obtained legal councel, appearing in court Nov. 21 with Noel Larrivee and Ashley Morigeau. Butler pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

During the interview with investigators, Butler said, “My mom came into my room, and I stabbed her multiple times. My stepdad came out, and I did the same to him. (Theodore Perry) came out; I stabbed him once; and that was it.”

According to court documents, Butler ambushed his mother and stabbed her in the throat several times with a green-handled knife. After hearing her scream for help, Fisher came to her aid while Butler went to the kitchen to get a long, meat-cutting knife. Butler then stabbed his stepfather until the blade of the knife broke. 

Perry came out of his bedroom to aid Fisher. Butler produced a pocket knife and stabbed Perry; he then stabbed Fisher a final time. Fisher tackled Butler, bringing them both to the ground. Butler worked his way free and fled the house.  

Butler told investigators he had taken the green-handled knife from the kitchen several hours earlier. Butler said he had been thinking about hurting his parents and was waiting for his mother to enter his room so he could stab her.

According to court documents, the prosecution has named 27 witnesses. More may be added as they become available. 

Neither Undersheriff Daniel Yonkin nor Deputy County Attorney James Lapotka could comment as to whether or not drugs or alcohol were involved. 

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