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Jun 2, 2009 6:44 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Suspect in stabbing death surrenders

Jun 2, 2009 6:44 PM

An arrest was made Monday in connection with the fatal stabbing of a Riverhead man outside the Hampton Bays Diner on Memorial Day weekend.

Suffolk County Police arrested Jermaine Holmes, 25, of Riverhead and charged him with second-degree murder in connection with the incident, which occurred at around 4 a.m. on May 24. He was held without bail after his arraignment Monday afternoon in Southampton Town Justice Court.

“He surrendered this morning at the 7th Precinct in Shirley,” said Detective Lieutenant Jack Fitzpatrick, who heads the Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad.

The stabbing left 26-year-old Calvin Butts with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.

Det. Lt. Fitzpatrick said that sometime between the stabbing and the arrest, it became clear to Mr. Holmes and his family that police were looking for him, and he contacted an attorney. “We had a conversation with his attorney, who agreed to turn him in,” he said.

More than 30 people attended the arraignment. Some of them were there for Mr. Holmes, but most of them were Mr. Butts’s family and friends. His mother, Sharon Butts, wore a T-shirt with his photo on it that read “Beloved Son.” Another woman wore an airbrushed shirt that read “R.I.P. Calvin Butts,” and one had a shirt with a high school graduation photo of Mr. Butts with the caption “Forever in my heart.”

Mr. Holmes, whose hands were cuffed behind his back, did not look to the audience or say anything as he was led into the courtroom and stood before the judge.

“We believe this case will be prosecuted fully and grand jury action is imminent,” prosecutor Cornelius Rogers told Southampton Town Justice Barbara Wilson at the arraignment. He said Mr. Holmes made “significant admissions to a third party,” and there is physical evidence that implicates Mr. Holmes, although he did not offer specifics.

Mr. Rogers, the deputy chief of Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s East End Bureau, requested that Mr. Holmes be held without bail pending a grand jury indictment. He said Mr. Holmes had an active probation warrant, has faced felony drug charges and has been incarcerated in the past.

Riverhead attorney Susan Menu, who is representing Mr. Holmes, did not ask for Justice Wilson to grant her client bail. Instead, she said she was reserving the right to make a bail application later.

Following the arraignment, Ms. Menu said that the lethal fight at the diner was a terrible tragedy and the lesson people should take away from it is that sometimes when people go looking for trouble, they find it.

“All the families know each other,” Ms. Menu said, “and that just makes the tragedy worse.”

The attorney said her client did not reveal to her what predicated the fight.

Witnesses said Mr. Butts had been at the Whitehouse nightclub on Saturday night, and a confrontation at the 
nightclub followed him to the diner parking lot. The nightclub is in Hampton Bays, just a couple miles east of the diner.

Det. Lt. Fitzpatrick said both Mr. Butts and Mr. Holmes were inside the diner before going outside, where a fight involving a group of people broke out, and Mr. Butts was stabbed multiple times. He would not divulge how many stab wounds were inflicted, based on the medical examiner’s report, because investigators are still talking to witnesses.

It is unclear why the fight started, Det. Lt. Fitzpatrick said, adding that nothing that has come up in the investigation indicates to him it was in any way gang related.

The victim, Mr. Butts, was a 2001 graduate of Riverhead High School in 2001, was on the honor roll, and was a starter for Riverhead’s basketball and football teams.

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