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James BUTLER Jr.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Harlem Hammer"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Boxer USBA super middleweight champion - Arson
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 12, 2004
Date of arrest: October 27, 2004
Date of birth: December 18, 1972
Victim profile: Sam Kellerman (freelance sports writer)
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
LocationLos Angeles County, California, USA
Status: On March 27, 2006, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson. On April 5, Butler was sentenced to 29 years, four months in prison
 
 
 
 
 
 

James Butler Jr. (b. December 18, 1972 in Harlem, New York) is a former American light heavyweight boxer, and former USBA super middleweight champion. He had a career record of 20-5-0, with 12 wins coming by way of knockout, and was nicknamed "The Harlem Hammer".

Biography

Butler started off his career by scoring 18 wins and only 1 loss in the supermiddleweight division. This led to a title fight against Sven Ottke who beat Butler by unanimous decision.

Butler's next bout earned him infamy on November 23, 2001 at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. After losing by unanimous decision to Richard "The Alien" Grant, Butler had his gloves removed and went to Grant's side of the ring for an expected exchange of congratulations. Suddenly, Butler hit the unsuspecting Grant with a right hook to the jaw. Grant's jaw was badly broken. Butler was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

Butler's last bout was a split-decision loss on August 10, 2004 to Omar Sheika.

Murder conviction

On October 12, 2004, writer Sam Kellerman (brother of boxing analyst Max Kellerman) was murdered. (His body was found on October 17). Butler was considered a suspect; he had been friends with Kellerman for ten years.

On October 20, Butler, accompanied by a lawyer, sought treatment for his alleged bipolar disorder.

Butler was arrested for the Kellerman slaying on October 27, and two days later, he plead not guilty to murder and arson. He was held on $1.25 million bail. Prosecutors claimed that Butler, the only suspect in the case, repeatedly struck Kellerman in the head with a hammer, then torched Kellerman's Hollywood, California apartment in an attempted coverup.

On July 8, 2005, a Los Angeles judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence for Butler to stand trial on the charges of murder and arson.

On March 27, 2006, Butler pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson in the 2004 death of Kellerman. On April 5, Butler was sentenced to 29 years, four months in prison by Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, according to Deputy Public Defender Jack Keenan.

The suspected motive for the murder was that Kellerman was forcing Butler to move out of Kellerman's apartment. Butler, who was struggling to revive his career and suffering through a difficult relationship with his girlfriend and child, picked up a hammer and killed Kellerman.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

James Butler Jr. (b. December 18, 1972 in Harlem, New York) was an American light heavyweight boxer, and former USBA Super Middleweight champion. He had a career record of 20-5-0, with 12 wins coming by way of knockout.

Butler's infamy began with his actions after a nationally-televised bout on November 23, 2001 at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. After losing by unanimous decision to Richard "The Alien" Grant, Butler had his gloves removed and went to Grant's side of the ring for an expected exchange of congratulations. Suddenly, Butler hit the unsuspecting Grant with a right hook to the jaw. Grant went down and dripped blood from his mouth onto the mat. Butler was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

On October 12, 2004, writer Sam Kellerman, brother of boxing analyst Max Kellerman, was murdered. (His body was found on October 17.) Butler, whose last bout was a split-decision loss on August 10, 2004, was considered a potential suspect. (Butler and Kellerman had been friends for ten years.) On October 20, Butler, accompanied by a lawyer, sought treatment for his alleged bipolar disorder.

On October 29, Butler pleaded not guilty to murder and arson, following his arrest on October 27. He was held on $1.25 million bail. Prosecutors claimed that Butler, the only suspect in the case, repeatedly struck Kellerman in the head with a hammer, then torched Kellerman's Hollywood apartment in an attempted coverup. (Coincidentally, Butler fought under the nickname "The Harlem Hammer.")

On July 8, 2005, a Los Angeles judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence for Butler to stand trial on the charges of murder and arson.

On March 27, 2006, Butler pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson in the 2004 death of freelance sports writer, Sam Kellerman. On April 5, Butler was sentenced to 29 years, four months in prison by Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor, according to Deputy Public Defender Jack Keenan.

 
 

Boxer gets 30 years for killing sports writer

'The Harlem Hammer' Butler bludgeoned Kellerman to death in 2004

NBC Sports

April 7, 2006

LOS ANGELES - Boxer James Butler Jr., who fought under the moniker "The Harlem Hammer," was sentenced Wednesday to nearly 30 years in prison for the death of sports journalist Sam Kellerman.

Butler will also pay $17,853 in funeral expenses to Kellerman's family, $10,000 to the state's victim restitution fund and $11,882 to the owner of the victim's apartment, which was left torched and blood-soaked after the killing, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

Kellerman's body was found in his Hollywood apartment on Oct. 17, 2004, near a hammer.

The 33-year-old boxer pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson as jury selection was set to begin in his trial on March 27.

Butler and Kellerman, the 29-year-old younger brother of New York-based boxing expert and ESPN Radio show host Max Kellerman, had been friends and the boxer had been staying at the freelance writer's apartment, police said.

Prosecutors believe the attack came as Butler was having a tough time reviving his career, and was depressed about a souring relationship with his girlfriend, who was the mother of his child, Robison said.

"It's possible Mr. Kellerman asked him to move out or there was a disagreement over how long he could stay with him and it resulted in him picking up a hammer," she said. "The judge called it 'a slaughter.'"

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor reduced the sentence of 29 years and four months by 613 days to account for time Butler spent in custody since four days after the killing, said Superior Court spokeswoman Pat Kelly.

Butler has a pro record of 20-5-0, with 12 wins by knockout. He is best known for sucker-punching opponent Richard Grant in November 2001 after losing a charity bout in New York.

 
 

Boxer pleads guilty to death of sportswriter Kellerman

Espn.go.com

March 27, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- James Butler, a boxer who fought under the nickname "The Harlem Hammer," pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and arson Monday in the 2004 death of a freelance sports writer.

Butler will be sentenced to 29 years, four months in prison by Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor on April 5, according to Deputy Public Defender Jack Keenan.

The 33-year-old fighter entered his plea as jury selection was set to begin in his trial for the killing of Sam Kellerman, who was the 29-year-old brother of boxing expert Max Kellerman, an ESPN Radio show host in New York.

"I think it's a fair resolution of the case," Keenan said. "He's always been sorry for what he did, and in the end he thought of Sam Kellerman as a friend."

Butler faced about 34 years in prison had he gone to trial and been convicted of murder, Keenan said. The original count of murder was dismissed against the former USBA super middleweight champion.

A motive for the killing has not been revealed by prosecutors, although it could come out at Butler's sentencing, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

Kellerman's body was found in his Hollywood apartment on Oct. 17, 2004, although authorities believe he had been killed five days earlier. He had been bludgeoned around the head about 30 times while sitting at his desktop computer, police said. A hammer was found near Kellerman's body, his car was missing and his apartment was set on fire, police said.

Sam Kellerman was a freelance writer who covered pro boxing. He and Butler were friends and the boxer had been staying at Kellerman's apartment since late September, police said.

Butler has a pro record of 20-5-0, with 12 wins by knockout. He is best known for sucker-punching opponent Richard Grant in November 2001 after losing a charity bout in New York.

Butler has been in custody since his arrest three days after the Kellerman killing.

 
 


 

James Butler, left, became infamous for punching Richard Grant after their bout in November 2001 ended.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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