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Jun 30, 2010 10:54 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Holmes sentenced to 20 years in prison for 2009 stabbing in front of Hampton Bays Diner

Jun 30, 2010 10:54 AM

RIVERSIDE—Jermaine Holmes, the Northampton man who confessed to killing his former childhood friend during a fight outside the Hampton Bays Diner in May 2009, was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by five years of probation on Tuesday.

Mr. Holmes, 26, faced between 12 1/2 and 25 years in prison for fatally stabbing 26-year-old Calvin Butts of Riverside during a fight in the early morning hours of May 24, 2009—a fray in which the defense and prosecution offered divergent accounts. Mr. Holmes pleaded guilty to the crime almost exactly one year later, on May 20.

Mr. Holmes originally faced 25 years to life in prison for second-degree murder, but prosecutors reduced the charge as the result of a plea deal.

Susan Menu, the Riverhead attorney who defended Mr. Holmes, said her client must serve at least 17 years before he is eligible for early release. He will likely serve his sentence at a maximum security prison in upstate New York, she said.

Judge James F.X. Doyle handed down the sentence shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday at Suffolk County Court in Riverside. About 20 family members and supporters of Mr. Butts showed up, many wearing white T-shirts bearing photographs of Mr. Butts. The victim’s mother, Sharon Butts, left the courtroom sobbing after Judge Doyle read the sentence.

“No matter what, my son is gone,” she said outside the courtroom. “He will never come back.” Then she and other supporters gathered in a circle and prayed, thanking God for the sentence that was just handed down.

Before he was sentenced, Mr. Holmes turned to the Butts family and attributed the stabbing to “ignorance” and a “lack of communication,” as well as the fact that he had been drinking before the fatal fight.

“Under sober conditions, we would not be here today,” said Mr. Holmes, who was dressed in a black shirt and jeans, with his hands cuffed behind his back. He also expressed remorse. “Every night I have to sit in my cell and cry,” he said.

His mother and grandmother watched the sentencing, but his mother, who did not offer her name, declined to comment afterward.

Assistant District Attorney James Chalifoux called for the maximum sentence of 25 years, citing, in part, Mr. Holmes’s criminal record. Mr. Holmes, he said, was convicted in 2004 of selling cocaine and served six months in jail and five years of probation. In 2008, he was convicted of DWI, and, in 2009, he was arrested for DWI and driving while his ability was impaired by drugs, according to Mr. Chalifoux. He said Mr. Holmes pleaded guilty to those latest charges just days before he stabbed Mr. Butts.

Once, while on probation, Mr. Holmes tested positive for PCP during a drug test, Mr. Chalifoux told the court.

Ms. Menu requested 12 1/2 years in prison for her client, the minimum allowed. She said that Mr. Holmes has no history of violence, and she described the stabbing as an “anomaly” that came in the heat of a chaotic fray outside the Hampton Bays Diner. “This is something that happened in seconds,” she said.

A detailed sentencing memorandum the defense filed with the court prior to Tuesday’s sentencing told one account of the events leading up to the stabbing.

Mr. Holmes, the document said, began drinking at the diner’s bar at about 1 a.m. with his brother, 32-year-old Jimmy Dean, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Three hours later, Mr. Holmes was at the counter, waiting to pay for some takeout food, when he heard a commotion in the parking lot.

Some cars had pulled up, and a number of young men were fighting, according to the document. It went on to say that Mr. Holmes found his brother, Jimmy Dean, on the ground and under Chris Butts, the younger brother of the victim. Calvin Butts was also standing over a bleeding Mr. Dean, kicking him, the defense wrote.

According to that account, Mr. Holmes stabbed Mr. Butts five times in a drunken panic because he feared for his brother’s life. He knew Mr. Butts as a “violent young man” who was convicted of an attempted robbery in 2003 in which he stabbed another man twice in the chest at a gas station in Riverside, according to the memorandum.

According to State Department of Correctional records, Mr. Butts was incarcerated at Cape Vincent Correctional Facility in upstate New York between March 2004 and September 2006 for the attempted robbery.

That account differs from one offered in May by Mr. Chalifoux, who wrote in an e-mail that Mr. Butts, a 2001 graduate of Riverhead High School, was believed to have been stabbed while trying to break up the escalating fight, as Mr. Dean’s friends began to jump in.

“From what we learned, the fight was because Jimmy Dean felt that Chris Butts did not give him his ‘proper respect,’” Mr. Chalifoux wrote. “We heard rumors about other things but could not confirm anything.”

Mr. Dean was jailed in 2002 on a charge of second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony, according to corrections records. He was on parole for that charge at the time of the stabbing, prosecutors said.

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"...did not give hime the 'proper respect'"? You have to earn respect and even when you don't get it, you should respect yourself enough to know that you don't need approval from others. Clearly none of these men deserve respect! What a waste.
By ImThinking... (3), East Quogue on Jul 2, 10 9:35 AM
1 member liked this comment
I hope you read the BIBLE as much as you read this misleading information
from East 27. This is why they print wrong information to juice there stories for 'SINNERS' like you.
By Faith (10), Riverhead on Jul 15, 10 6:51 PM
no comment
By chops (4), riverhead on Jul 8, 10 11:34 AM
What was Holmes afraid of???
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 21, 10 8:15 AM