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Two men sentenced to life in prison for marijuana-dispensary killing

Two men who robbed an Echo Park medical marijuana dispensary, killed one employee and shot another were sentenced this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Raymond Lemone Easter, a black 27-year-old, and Daniel Deshawn Hinton, a black 31-year-old, were convicted in November of murder and attempted murder.

On June, 24, 2010, Easter and Hinton left the dispensary with cash and $10,000 worth of marijuana and had dismantled the security cameras. But for no apparent reason, prosecutors said, they returned moments later and used a revolver to shoot two workers lying on the floor.

Matthew Butcher, a 27-year-old clerk, died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Urban Jones Jr., who had two bullets lodged in his head, grabbed a dumbbell to break the glass door and stumbled onto the sidewalk to call for help. Jones, who was working as a security guard at the time, survived.

Hinton had been going to the dispensary for several months and was known to Butcher and Jones as “Scooter,” which turned out to be his gang name.

Since the age of 14, Hinton and Easter had been in and out of custody, including convictions for possession of marijuana with intent to sell.

Easter, who fired the shots inside the dispensary, also has convictions for bringing a knife to school and possession of a firearm.

“They’re gone forever, and that’s good,” Butcher’s mother, Julie, said after the Jan. 10 sentencing.

Julie Butcher chronicled last year’s trial and the sentencing with the social media hashtag #JusticeForMateo and started a foundation in her son’s name “to encourage acts of kindness.”

During the sentencing hearing, she told the court about her son’s first words: “ball” and “dog.”

"For a while, our little world was divided into balls and dogs. He was a sweet baby, a delightful child, smart, stubborn and inquisitive," said Butcher, the well-known Inland Region director for Local 721 of the Service Employees International Union. Her statement to the court was later posted on Facebook.

Hinton and Easter claimed innocence at the hearing in downtown Los Angeles. L.A. County Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus had to interrupt their statements to remind them that they had been convicted by jurors. Neither testified during the trial.

"Any murder is senseless, but this one was so much more," Marcus told the courtroom, calling the "sick, close-range ambush ... as cold a scene as I have ever seen in my 25 years as a judge."

— Paresh Dave

Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Hinton and Easter were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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