Pontiac - An Oakland Circuit judge set a new trial date Tuesday for a man charged with killing a Southfield party store employee in an alleged dispute over a winning lottery ticket after a jury said they were deadlocked and could not reach a verdict on his guilt or innocence.
Jurors had been deliberating the fate of Bruce Butler for nearly three days. The hung jury meant Judge Rae Lee Chabot could declare a mistrial, dismiss the jury and have another jury selected to hear the case. Chabot set a new trial date for April 8.
Butler, 48, of Southfield was charged in August 2011 with first-degree, pre-meditated murder in the October 2010 death of Mazin "Mike" Khmoro, 48, of Farmington Hills after Butler's ex-brother in law came forward with information about the death, including how Butler allegedly asked him to hide a handgun and provide him with an alibi.
"I think this is going to be a very difficult case for any jury," said Butler's attorney, Joseph A. Niskar, responding to the mistrial.
Investigators believe Butler parked and sat inside his wife's SUV behind Cronin's Party Store on Northwestern Highway for several hours on Oct. 6, 2010 and shot Khmoro when he went out to a rear trash dumpster.
Butler had allegedly argued with Khmoro's younger brother, who owns the store, in a dispute over a $250,000 lottery ticket, investigators said.