Man allegedly murdered after ‘teasing’ turned into a fatal stabbing, documents say

Leonte Butler was found fatally stabbed on a South Capitol street after teasing over his speech impairment escalated into his murder, according to charging documents.

According to witness testimony included in those documents, on the night of March 11, 30-year-old Leonard Smith and Butler were “playfully” pushing each other and wrestling near the intersection of Atlantic and South Capitol Streets when Butler accidentally hit a man known as “Neechie” in the mouth. Neechie, later identified as Leonard Smith, allegedly “got angry” and pulled out a kitchen knife and stabbed Butler multiple times.

Police later found Butler unresponsive with apparent stab wounds on the 4000 block of South Capitol St., SE. Butler was pronounced dead on the scene and later brought to the medical examiner’s office, where his cause of death was ruled multiple stab wounds to the head and torso.

Upon further investigation, police found surveillance footage in the area showing three men, one man matching Butler’s description, entering the rear stairwell of 21 Atlantic St., SW.

Footage from the Trinity Plaza Apartment Building showed the trio going back and forth between apartment 220 and the rear stairwell. Eventually, they left the apartment building altogether and started heading down South Capitol Street, SW on foot and out of view of the camera.

A short while after the same two males mentioned previously are seen walking back without Butler. Officers noted in the report that one of the men, who was wearing a black and green/yellow Helly Hansen jacket, dark jeans, and black tennis shoes appeared to be “favoring his right hand, as if he had injured his hand.”

According to witness interviews, a witness corroborated the surveillance footage and told police the trio were in apartment 220 the night the video shows and were said to be “drinking, smoking and having a good time.”

The witness also identified the man in the Helly Hansen jacket as “Neechie.”

The third man shown in the video was later interviewed by police. The witness noted that earlier in the night, while in apartment 220 Neechie was “continuously teasing” Butler about his speech impairment.

The witness went on to recount Butler’s murder in the intersection of Atlantic and South Capitol Streets after Neechie pulled out a kitchen knife.

The witness told police that during the stabbing, he began walking away, and Neechie eventually caught up.They returned to the apartment building. The witness told police Neechie was against them leaving the apartment, but eventually changed his mind. Before leaving Neechie changed his clothes and told the witness to do the same.

The witness later identified “Neechie” as Smith.

Smith is being held without bond as he faces a second-degree murder while armed charge.

He is expected in court April 21 for a preliminary hearing.

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