PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Day two of the murder trial of 61-year-old Robert Butler kicked off Tuesday morning.
Butler is accused of shooting and killing Samuel Hassler in Panama City Beach in July 2020.
The victim’s girlfriend testified about what happened that night.
Starla Cooper had been dating Hassler for five years.
Cooper said she and Hassler had only known Butler for a couple of months before the night of the murder.
Cooper said they had a business relationship.
Cooper said Butler was letting her and Hassler stay in a spare bedroom of his apartment at the Cabana West Apartments in Panama City Beach while they were getting ready to start a cleaning business.
She said the arrangement took a turn when Butler tried to pursue a romantic relationship with her and she rejected him.
“Was there anything that Mr. Butler started doing with you that started to make Sam uncomfortable about Mr. Butler?” Prosecutor Peter Overstreet asked Cooper.
“Yes,” Cooper said.
“All right. Tell us about it,” Overstreet said.
“He approached me sexually, he (Butler) told me that he would put me over two businesses instead of just one, and if I wouldn’t do it, he would take me off business,” Cooper said.
“So he said, he propositioned you for sex. Did you say yes? Did you turn him down?”, Overstreet asked.
“I said no,” Cooper said.
“And when you did that, what was Mr. Butler’s reaction?” Overstreet asked.
“He took me off the business,” Cooper said.
On July 29, Cooper said she and Hassler went to Defuniak Springs to do a combination of meth and heroin.
They didn’t return to the shared apartment until midnight, but Cooper said she and Hassler intended to move their stuff out of Butler’s apartment.
Cooper said when she walked through the door, Butler was pointing a gun at her. Cooper said she left shortly after.
Later in the night, Cooper and Hassler returned to Butler’s apartment and Cooper said she fell asleep on the bed.
“What’s the next thing you recall happening?” Overstreet asked.
“I remember dropping to my knees and checking on Sam (Hassler) and Larry (Butler) still standing there with a gun in. I don’t remember how I got the knife, but I remember stabbing Larry (Butler),” Cooper said.
Day three of the trial will continue tomorrow.