Posted on: July 27, 2023, 06:43h.
Last updated on: July 27, 2023, 06:43h.
A young West Virginia jockey charged with first-degree murder was linked to the crime by cellphone records, according to Maryland prosecutors.
Bryson Butterfly, 18, was a promising rider who raced regularly at the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. But he was arrested by US Marshalls at his home close to the casino on June 23 on suspicion of participating in the murder of his friend, Elias Cieslak, 17.
Prosecutors claim Butterfly conspired with two others to rob Cieslak at gunpoint, but the holdup turned fatal. Cieslak was shot dead in Overlea, Md. on April 23.
David Lofton, 32, and another 17-year-old, who is not named because he is a minor, have also been charged with murder.
Police spoke to Butterfly near a McDonalds in Overlea shortly after discovering Cieslak’s body. The jockey told officers he had picked the victim up in his Subaru Forester as part of a drugs deal. Cieslak had agreed to sell Butterfly four pounds of marijuana for $8,500, according to court documents.
Butterfly claimed that while the deal was going down, two men showed up in a black Infiniti Q50 and robbed Cieslak of his drugs as Butterfly fled. Butterfly told police he had left the area before the victim was shot dead.
Police found $7,700 in counterfeit money at the crime scene.
Suspicious of Butterfly, investigators examined records of his cellphone, which he claimed had been stolen in the robbery. They discovered that the phone called the cellphone of the younger alleged robber shortly before Butterfly picked up Cieslak in his car.
Records also appeared to show Butterfly was in constant contact with Lofton on the day of the crime.
After the killing, the phone traveled to — or close to – an address in West Baltimore, where Butterfly had claimed to live. It pinged off the mast at the same time the jockey was being interviewed by police.
At a bail hearing on Wednesday, Butterfly’s attorney Sara Kopecki argued the state’s case was “based at best on circumstantial evidence,” as reported by The Baltimore Sun.
State prosecutors painted Butterfly as the “ringleader” of the robbery.
Cieslak’s father, Juan Cieslak, said Wednesday the victim was proud to watch Butterfly competing in races on TV and wore a T-shirt with the accused’s face printed on it.
“I wish I could have my son back and they could have theirs,” he told The Baltimore Sun after the hearing, referring to Butterfly’s family members. “They can talk to their son on the phone, but I can’t talk to my son in heaven.”
Butterfly was denied bail and remains incarcerated in the Baltimore County Detention Center. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for August 18.