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YOUNGSTOWN Woman awaits coroner's ruling after victim dies

Published: Fri, May 3, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.

The woman's felonious assault charge could be upgraded.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Michael A. Butch, an 89-year-old South Sider whose throat was slashed in February, has died.
If Mahoning County Coroner David M. Kennedy determines the stabbing caused the death, the felonious assault charge against 30-year-old Michelle T. Burton of Ellenwood Avenue would be upgraded, said Lt. Robin Lees, police department public information officer.
The coroner's office is expected to have a ruling in about a week. If ruled a homicide, it would be the city's 14th this year.
Here's what happened
Butch, who died Thursday, was stabbed about 5:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in his throat and abdomen at his East Midlothian Boulevard apartment. He was found sitting on the floor, propped near the front door, with blood on his face and abdomen.
His pants pockets had been pulled out, as if someone had gone through them. A neighbor who had seen him crawling to the door called police.
Butch's keys, dentures and eyeglasses were found laying in a bloodstain on the carpet in the living room. A trail of blood led to Butch.
Butch wasn't able to speak but nodded his responses to police questions. Officers determined that Burton had been to Butch's apartment several times and that she stabbed and robbed him.
Neighbors told police that women crack addicts frequently showed up at Butch's apartment asking for money.
Burton was one of several women Butch met at a local restaurant, Less said. The women often visited the elderly man to help with his care.
Detective Sgts. Daryl Martin and Jerry Shuster arrested Burton on April 23 on the felonious assault charge.
Grand jury
Burton will have the charge directly presented to a Mahoning County grand jury. The process eliminates the preliminary hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday in Municipal Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr.'s court.
Burton was found guilty Thursday in an unrelated case of passing bad checks. Judge Douglas sentenced her to 180 days in jail, suspended 150 days and gave her credit for 18 days she has been in jail, records show. The judge also suspended a $1,000 fine.

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