On Aug. 29, a magistrate judge declined a Canyon County prosecutor’s request to put a no-contact order in place between Philip Butler and his wife. Two weeks later, police believe that Philip Butler killed Kaylynn Butler and then himself.
The tragic series of events leading to the couple’s death began when Nampa police investigated an accusation of sexual abuse of a child younger than age 10. Both of the Butlers were listed as suspects.
Police claim that on Aug. 28, Philip Butler told Kaylynn Butler not to talk to investigators. He was then charged with felony witness intimidation.
When officers went that day to the Butlers’ home at 8 S. Fairview St., police attempted to contact Philip Butler for an hour, knocking on doors to the home and using a loudspeaker, their probable cause affidavit states. Eventually, both of the Butlers came out of the home and Philip Butler was handcuffed and put in a patrol car to be taken to the police station for an interview.
As he was handcuffed, Kaylynn Butler stood with two of the couple’s children in a parking lot just down the street from the home, according to the affidavit. As the patrol car drove by Kaylynn Butler, police claim Philip Butler yelled out the rolled-down window, “Don’t tell them anything, get an attorney.”
Nampa Police Detective Curtis Carper wrote in the affidavit that Philip Butler “sounded forceful in the way he yelled directions to Kaylynn.”
Later, at the police station, Carper reported that he interviewed Philip Butler, and Philip Butler was told that Kaylynn Butler was also being interviewed. As the detective was exiting the interview room, he alleged that Philip Butler yelled out of the interview room and into the hallway “Kaylynn, attorney.”
Kaylynn was in an interview room two rooms down the hall, according to Carper’s affidavit.
Carper wrote in the probable cause affidavit that he was still investigating Philip Butler, and he believed there was a risk of intimidation and coercion.
“I believe that Philip will return to the home causing further interference with my investigation and intimidating a witness,” Carper wrote in the document. “I request a no-contact order and appropriate bond.”
The next day, Magistrate Judge John Meienhofer disagreed.
On Thursday, Meienhofer told the Statesman that he didn’t believe, based on the evidence presented to him Aug. 29, that there was probable cause for the witness intimidation charge.
“They filed charges against (Philip Butler) alleging that he told her to not talk to police and to get a lawyer,” Meienhofer said about the prosecutor’s charge. “That is not witness intimidation.”
During Philip Butler’s initial court appearance on Aug. 29, Meienhofer released Butler from jail on his own recognizance. Court minutes of the hearing say Meienhofer “noted for the record that it did not find probable cause, and it was declining the state’s request for no contact.”
Meienhofer told the Statesman that prosecutors did not oppose releasing Butler on his own recognizance.
“If a judge cannot find probable cause, you cannot keep him in jail,” Meienhofer said, noting that both of the Butlers were listed as suspects in the probable cause affidavit. “It is not a crime to tell your wife, ‘Don’t say anything, get a lawyer.’
“I have to base my decision on facts and probable cause and that’s all I can do. That’s all I had.”
The Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office initially declined comment on the case, but on Friday evening responded through county spokesman Joe Decker to the judge’s remarks.
“Judge Meienhoffer’s suggestion that the prosecutor did not oppose releasing the defendant is misleading,” Decker said. “A review of the audio of the hearing showed the prosecutor was never consulted. That said, because the judge did not find probable cause, the defendant cannot be held regardless of the wishes of the prosecuting attorney. So for the judge to say the prosecutor did not oppose his release is misleading.”
When a person is released from jail on their own recognizance, they do not pay a bond, but are required to appear at all follow-up court appearances. Philip Butler was booked in on Aug. 28 and released the following day.
Nampa police again went to the Butlers’ home on Sept. 15, when a family member reportedly found the dead bodies of the couple. Police said Kaylynn Butler suffered two gunshot wounds at close range and Philip suffered one gunshot wound, leading them to believe he shot her and then shot himself. Only one gun was found in the home.
There were no witnesses to the death, so Nampa police said this week that they could not be 100 percent certain who shot whom. It’s unclear how long the couple had been dead before they were found. Lt. Eric Skoglund said Thursday that police believe the Butlers died sometime between Sept. 13 and when their bodies were found.
A preliminary hearing in Philip Butler’s witness intimidation case had been scheduled to take place Sept. 12, three days before the bodies were found. Butler attended that hearing, but the matter was rescheduled after his attorney, Casi Wright, told the judge she hadn’t been in contact with her client.
Anyone impacted by domestic violence and in need of help should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
The Boise Women’s and Children’s Alliance’s hotline can be contacted at 208-343-7025.
Boise’s Faces of Hope Victim Center can be reached at 208-577-4400.
Nampa residents may call 211 and ask for Nampa’s Domestic Violence Hotline, or call 800-621-4673.
Caldwell’s Advocates Against Family Violence’s hotline can be contacted at 208-459-4779.
Ruth Brown: 208-377-6207, @RuthBrownNews