Attorneys for a Broward County man convicted in September of killing a Key Wester during Fantasy Fest 2009 will ask a Monroe County judge on Thursday to give their client a new trial.
If Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia says no, 27-year-old Nicholas Ferro faces sentencing Friday of up to life in prison for his second-degree-murder conviction in the stabbing death of Marquese Butler.
The Thursday hearing before Garcia at the Plantation Key Courthouse is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday's sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the same courthouse.
An Upper Keys jury found Ferro, 26, guilty of second-degree murder on Sept. 27. He killed Butler, then 23, on Oct. 31, 2009, during an early-morning brawl on Caroline Street.
Ferro's attorneys unsuccessfully argued self defense. The father and son team of Edward O'Donnell III and Edward O'Donnell IV said their client and his friends were attacked by an angry Key West mob that included Butler.
Ferro, his attorneys said, jumped into the middle of a group beat-down being meted out on his friend, Jorge Averoff. He said he pulled a pocketknife out after Butler knocked him to the ground. Ferro said Butler ran into the knife's blade when he lurched to hit Ferro again.
Butler died later that morning on a Lower Keys Medical Center operating table. The 2.5-inch blade penetrated 6 inches into his abdomen.
A jury took less than two hours to find Ferro guilty of murder.
His request for a new trial largely hinges on "prejudicial" testimony that suggested Ferro was involved with a gang.
This was the second time Ferro was tried for killing Butler. The first trial ended in a hung jury, prompting Chief Circuit Court Judge David Audlin to declare a mistrial. The case was moved to the Upper Keys because Butler and his family are too well known in Key West.
Prosecutors Breezye Telfair and Miesha Darrough from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office took the place of Monroe County prosecutors because several staff members here have ties to the Butler family. Between his trials, Ferro was released on $750,000 bond. He's now in the Keys jail with no bond allowed.