Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Killing L.A. Marijuana Dispensary Worker
A man charged in the execution-style killing of a worker at a Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary pleaded not guilty Monday as police continued to search for a second suspect in the case.
Daniel Deshawn Hinton, 31, is being held without bail while awaiting trial in the June 26 shooting death of 27-year-old Matthew Butcher at the Higher Path Holistic Care Collective on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.
A group of men entered the dispensary, holding Butcher and a security guard face-down at gunpoint while they ransacked the store for cash and marijuana, police said. Although the two did not resist, they were shot, according to an account given to police by the security guard, who survived.
Hinton, who was arrested July 21, also has been charged with attempted murder in the shooting of the guard.
The Los Angeles Police Department is searching for Raymond Lemone Easter, 27, who was identified last week as one of the attackers and so far has eluded detectives. He, too, has been charged with murder and attempted murder.
A $50,000 reward for information leading to Easter's arrest was issued by the Los Angeles City Council last week. As is often the case, police have struggled to persuade people who might have useful information to cooperate because of fears of retaliation.
LAPD Lt. Gregg Strenk, who is overseeing the investigation, said detectives are working to identify at least one more person they believe was with Easter and Hinton at the time of the shooting.
Easter and Hinton are known gang members, but Strenk said there is no evidence to support widespread speculation that the dispensary was cutting into illegal street drug sales controlled by area gangs and that the shooting was meant to send a message or as retaliation.
Hours after Butcher was killed, a worker at a dispensary five miles away in Hollywood was discovered dead. Ila Ali Packman, 39, was found dead from an apparent stabbing inside Hollywood Holistic 2 on North El Centro Avenue.
Police have found no indication that the two killings are linked. They have not made an arrest in the second case and indicated that they do not have any strong leads.