UPDATED August 27, 2009
DALLAS (BP)–One of two men accused of killing two Christian record producers last summer has been sentenced to die by lethal injection. One of the victims, a member of First Baptist Church in Dallas, had been counseled only hours earlier by the church’s pastor, Robert Jeffress.
“In the strange providence of God, Matthew Butler came to meet with me one afternoon about finding his unique purpose in God’s Kingdom through our church,” Jeffress recounted to Baptist Press Aug. 26. “Only a few hours later Matthew was killed while leaving his recording studio in Garland.
“None of us will understand why God allowed such a thing to happen, but Matthew’s faith was strong and his eternal destiny in heaven is certain,” said Jeffress, who preached at Butler’s funeral.
Butler, 28, made the appointment to meet with Jeffress last June and drove to Dallas from suburban Garland to see the pastor.
“He talked about how happy he and his wife were at our church,” Jeffress had recounted in a report by the Southern Baptist TEXAN newsjournal last summer. “They had just joined in April, and they wanted to find a place to serve and use their spiritual gifts. He was absolutely sold out to Jesus Christ.”
Jeffress said he and Butler discussed tithing and the responsibility a father has to provide for his children. Butler, who had a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old at the time, was eager to give to the church.
The TEXAN reported that Jeffress and Butler prayed together for God to open doors for Butler to bless his family as well as others.
Butler then returned to his recording studio in Garland, where he and a co-worker, Stephen Swan, 26, worked until that late evening, according to the TEXAN report. Police, alerted by a passerby, discovered the bodies of Butler and Swan just after midnight on June 19.
The day after the killings, police in Texarkana, Ark., pulled Swan’s stolen car over for a traffic violation and eventually arrested James Broadnax, 19, and his cousin, Damarius Cummings, 19.
According to accounts, the record producers had struck up a conversation with Broadnax and Cummings as they were leaving the Zion Gate Records studio. During a 30-minute span, the two told about their work and said they were Christians. Broadnax took out a pistol and began firing, shooting both men multiple times.
Broadnax and Cummings, who later admitted they had traveled to Dallas with the intent to rob someone, managed to escape with only $2 and Swan’s 1995 Crown Victoria.
A Dallas County jury sentenced Broadnax to the death penalty Aug. 21 in Swan’s death, and he still faces a capital murder charge in Butler’s death. He confessed in multiple media interviews that he killed the two record producers. Cummings is awaiting trial for both killings.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Erin Roach.