A man charged in the murder of Bernard Hughes who had earlier pleaded guilty to a reduced charge on Wednesday backtracked on prosecutors and now conceivably could wind up facing life in prison.
In the trial of 33-year-old Harold Francis "Bam" Butler, prosecutors called John "Cut Throat" Simpson as a witness. Two weeks after the murder in June 2010, he gave a lengthy statement in which he said Butler was one of the gunmen in the slaying at the British Woods Apartments.
The jury heard a tape of Simpson telling police that Butler was one of the shooters.
But when questioned by prosecutor Cameron Williams, he said that was not the truth.
With the jury excused, Simpson said he had decided he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea to second-degree murder. He said, "I want a trial like the rest of them."
With the guilty plea, Simpson was to have received 15-25 years. He has already spent over three years of the time behind bars.
Judge Don Poole noted that in a trial in which he was charged with first-degree murder he "would be facing life in the penitentiary if he's convicted."
Defense attorney Jay Perry asked Simpson if it was true that Butler had shot Hughes, and he said it was not true.
Simpson was then sent back to jail.
He is operating as his own attorney, though John Brooks was appointed as his "elbow counsel."
Unjolee Moore, who was the driver, is facing life after his conviction. Simpson was not called as a witness in Moore's trial. Moore had given police a statement, but Butler did not.
Simpson was allegedly the other of two gunmen who shot Hughes and Timothy Westfield on the porch of Hughes' apartment.
Steven James Ballou, 33, was also involved. Ballou pleaded guilty in mid-July to aggravated robbery and was given a 12-year prison sentence.
John "Cut Throat" Simpson