Man sentenced for fatally shooting cousin in face

Quitten McCawley
Quitten McCawley
William Butler (Source: Family photo)
William Butler (Source: Family photo)

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A gathering in the summer of 2009 quickly turned tragic when Quitten McCawley took a gun, pointed it at his cousin, and fired a single shot which killed him.  It is how it happened that has been the center of many court dates.

Emotions ran high on both sides in the courtroom as even the grandfather of both the defendant and the victim spoke during the sentencing hearing, pleading for McCawley's freedom.

"I think about it all of the time. Everyday I think about what I've done and the hurt and the inconvenience I've caused by those few seconds and a bad decision," McCawley said while breaking down in tears.

15-year-old William Butler went to hang out with McCawley - his best friend and cousin - when McCawley shot him with the gun, which he says he thought he had successfully unloaded prior to the stunt.

"That day two lives were destroyed. Two families were destroyed and it's something Quitten will have to do deal with for the rest of his life," said McCawley's attorney Richard Decker, who also wiped away tears during the sentencing.

While McCawley and his attorney say it wasn't intentional, the prosecution never let him off the hook.

"The actions of the defendant to say the least were reckless. Anyone old enough to own a gun much less anyone who takes on the responsibility of owning a gun knows that you never point a barrel at someone," said Cristal Fox with the Commonwealth Attorney's Office.

The prosecution cited McCawley's past DUI and marijuana charges, not to mention a handful of traffic citations he's received while on home incarceration.

McCawley and Butler's grandfather spoke in favor of Quitten receiving probation, despite a rift in the family.

"I'll try to get through this without breaking up too much," he said.  "I don't see a whole lot of purpose in continuing to punish and to try to tear down the character of any individual," the grandfather continued.

"I'm a grandfather to all of them. And I love each one of them no different than the other one," the grandfather said.

Quitten offered everyone an apology before Judge Charles Cunningham Junior's ruling.

"I wasn't consciously pointing the gun in the direction of my cousin. I've never shot anybody. I had a lot going for me in my life," McCawley said while speaking about the fact that before the shooting he owned a home and a car, had a job, and was engaged.

In the end, Judge Charles Cunningham, Junior sentenced McCawley to 5 years behind bars, which is what the prosecution wanted.  He could become eligible for shock probation, meaning his actual time served could be signigantly less.

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