Plea Deal Struck in Panola Co. Hit & Run Murder

Plea Deal Struck in Panola Co. Hit & Run Murder

A Panola County teen charged with intentionally running over and killing a 61-year-old man last July has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.
PANOLA CO., MS (abc24.com) - A Panola County teen charged with intentionally running over and killing a 61-year-old man last July has reached a plea deal with prosecutors.

Investigators say Matthew Whitten Darby, who was 17 at the time, was driving the vehicle that ran over John Butts on Highway 310 in Como around 7 a.m. on July 22, 2012. The Sunday school teacher was hit and dragged 70 feet while taking his morning walk.

The incident was investigated as a possible hate crime after it was suggested that Darby targeted Butts because he was black. "We talked to numerous witnesses and there was just no evidence whatsoever that this was in fact a hate crime, though it was investigated as one," stated District Attorney John Champion.

Champion said Matthew Darby will serve 27 years in prison.

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