Wanted heroin addict caught driving on a suspended license with drug paraphernalia released, arrested for assault two days later

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: William Butler

By Jon Johnson


“Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Derived from an Italian Proverb

SAFFORD – William Duane Butler, 33, received leniency once, but was quickly jailed two days later after allegedly assaulting a landlord and, according to the victim, attempting to run him over with a motor vehicle.

Butler was initially pulled over for a traffic infraction Wednesday, Oct. 23, at about 10:48 a.m. During the contact, the officer learned Butler had two non-extraditable warrants for his arrest out of Tucson and a statewide warrant from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, however, DPS advised it would not extradite Butler. Unbeknownst to the officer at that time was that Butler had just recently failed to appear in a Graham County courtroom the previous day to answer to a shoplifting charge.

During the traffic stop, the officer located drug paraphernalia related to heroin use and a large knife at least 8-inches long. Since Butler is a convicted felon who did not have his rights restored, having that sort of knife in his possession is against the law. Butler’s driver’s license was also suspended, and he had been given multiple citations for driving while suspended in recent history.

Butler allegedly advised that he is a heroin addict and that he hadn’t used it since last night and was already feeling sick. The officer then released the vehicle to the registered owner and also released Butler but informed him that charges for possession of drug paraphernalia and misconduct involving weapons – prohibited possessor would be forwarded to prosecutors.

Just two days later, officers were dispatched at about 8:50 a.m. to a residence on 7th Street regarding an assault and criminal damage perpetrated allegedly by Butler.

According to a Safford Police report, the victim said he arrived at the residence and served Butler with an eviction notice. He said a scuffle then ensued in which Butler allegedly struck him multiple times after Butler told the victim to move his vehicle so he could leave. The victim reported that he had previously informed Butler that he was not supposed to be at the residence and said he was going to call the police.

The victim said Butler then got into his vehicle and that he had to jump out of the way from being struck. He said Butler then struck the victim’s vehicle and a garden hose pipe and bent multiple fence posts.

Butler was located shortly thereafter in his vehicle by another officer at 7th Street and Valley Avenue with another person driving. Butler allegedly admitted to striking the victim’s vehicle and property but said he did so only because the victim refused to move his vehicle and was getting in his way. He said after the incident, he went and got his friend to drive his car due to his license being suspended.

During the interaction, the officer located pieces of burnt aluminum foil with apparent drug residue but ultimately just ordered the destruction of the items even after Butler allegedly admitted to using them to smoke heroin.

Butler was then transported to the Graham County Adult Detention Facility and booked on two counts of assault and one count of criminal damage. However, Butler had one more stroke of good luck while at the jail.

Remember Butler had failed to appear for court on Wednesday, Oct. 23, the day before his first traffic stop? Well, a warrant for failure to appear made it through the court and was issued Monday, Oct. 28.

However, as Butler was being prepared to be released Tuesday, Oct. 29, no local warrants came up in the jail’s system. Approximately 10 minutes after Butler was released, Graham County Dispatch was notified about the warrant, which carries a $500 bond.

This article was updated on Friday, Nov. 1, to show Butler’s age as 33 and not 23 as previously reported.