Matthew Darby charges

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 27, 2012

Investigator: teen who ran over man vandalized church

By Billy Davis

Panola County authorities allege a 17-year-old facing a murder charge for an alleged hit-and-run near Como vandalized a church near Sardis before fatally striking a pedestrian east of Como.

Matthew Whitten Darby is charged with burglary and felony malicious mischief in addition to a murder charge.

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Stained glass windows were broken and a table was damaged at the church by Darby and a second juvenile who is also charged, said sheriff’s investigator Bill McGee.

Union pastor Bob Hickey said the vandals used an offering plate to break two windows and overturned a glass table in the foyer, breaking the glass.  

Authorities allege Darby was behind the wheel of a white Monte Carlo that investigators believe struck and killed Johnny Lee Butts early Sunday morning. Butts was 61.

Darby turned himself in to the Panola County Sheriff’s Department later that day, and sometime that afternoon authorities reported two others were passengers in the Monte Carlo.

McGee said Thursday a 15-year-old will face the same burglary and malicious mischief charges while an 18-year-old passenger has not been charged, he said.

Butts was struck and killed as he walked along Highway 310, near Blue Room Road.
Union Baptist Church is located on Union Road, between Sardis and Sardis Lake, also close to Highway 310.