Two more people are now charged with helping Brian Butts escape a law enforcement manhunt after Butts shot and killed Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier in April, according to court documents.
Savannah Eastman, 24, and Ricky Roberts, 25, are both charged with first-degree rendering of criminal assistance.
DeRosier was shot while responding to a complaint of a disabled motor home blocking the roadway near the 100 block of Fallert Road in Kalama on April 13. He died the following morning from his injuries.
Police say Butts, 33, of Kalama was seen tromping out of the woods wet and dirty with a firearm on Spencer Creek Road on April 14. Butts fired at the officers, who returned fire and killed him, ending a nearly 22-hour manhunt, authorities say.
According to new officer reports, deputies believe Michael Veatch called Eastman, his girlfriend at the time, who in turn called Roberts to arrange a getaway ride for Butts shortly after DeRosier was shot.
The morning after DeRosier was shot, Woodland Police officers located a vehicle parked at the end of China Garden Road occupied solely by Roberts, according to police records. It was parked near a set of communication towers with bright flashing lights about two miles south of the DeRosier shooting location on Fallert Road.
Roberts initially told officers he’d been fighting with his girlfriend and was sleeping in his car. However, detectives suspect he and the other defendants were planning to use the towers as a beacon for Butts to find while tromping through the woods at night.
According to police records, Eastman and Roberts had a series of 11 phone calls between 2 and 6 a.m. the morning after DeRosier was shot.
In a July interview with Clark County sheriff’s deputies, Eastman said she was in Oregon at the time of DeRosier’s murder. She denied talking to Roberts during the night but admitted to speaking to him after deputies confronted her with phone records.
Donald Grandchamp, an associate of Michael Veatch, rode as a passenger in Veatch’s car while DeRosier was investigating the motor home, according to police records. Grandchamp told deputies in July that, immediately following the shooting, Michael Veatch told him that his brother Matthew Veatch planned to escort Butts to the top of a hill with a radio tower where someone would drive him away.
The plan didn’t work.
Butts came to the Veatches residence on Fallert Road and asked Matthew Veatch to “get rid of” a handgun partially covered in wet mud immediately following the shooting, detectives say. Matthew Veatch, who told an investigator he had heard a gunshot before Butts arrived, told detectives he locked that weapon in a gun cabinet before leading Butts away from his house and into the woods.
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After Butts told Veatch during that walk that he had shot a cop, Veatch led Butts to a barn and the two parted ways. At about 7 p.m. on April 14, officers found Butts on Spencer Creek Road. Butts fired on officers, prompting them to return fire and kill him, police say.
Eastman and Roberts now join Matthew Veatch, 25, as criminal defendants in the investigation. Matthew Veatch was charged with rendering criminal assistance in April following the shooting.
In text messages prior to the DeRosier shooting, Eastman told Butts that she valued his friendship and “your welcome here so don’t think your not,” according to police records. They last exchanged messages the day before the shooting.
Eastman told the Daily News in the weeks after the shooting that she knew Butts from living in Kalama but didn’t know him on a personal basis.
Michael Veatch, 33, died in October following a police chase in Columbia County unrelated to the DeRosier case. Police used “deadly force” to kill Veatch, but Oregon officials still have not released any details of how he died.
While Michael Veatch was never charged in the events surrounding DeRosier’s death, he was arrested, interviewed, and considered a suspect in the investigation.
Michael Veatch told investigators he had been helping Butts get the motor home started after it broke down April 13, according to police records. He and Grandchamp were stopped by DeRosier for a burnt-out taillight while DeRosier was on his way to investigate the motor home.
Michael Veatch told officers he went by the motor home after that stop and didn’t see DeRosier or anyone else at the motor home. Grandchamp, however, claimed to have seen an officer at the motor home with his gun out, yelling for the occupant to come out with hands up. He told investigators the deputy waved them through the scene.
Grandchamp said the Veatch brothers then left the house to help Butts get away. Michael Veatch and Butts didn’t like cops, Grandchamp told investigators, and Butts had told him, “I won’t go back to prison, ever.”
He further said Butts had been a “mental wreck” since learning that his half-brother Daniel Butts had been sentenced in March to a minimum of nearly 50 years in prison for the 2011 murder of Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter.
Grandchamp also told investigators that Michael Veatch had coached him and Veatch’s mother about what to tell police after DeRosier was shot.
Matthew Veatch is scheduled to go to trial Dec. 10, while Roberts will go to trial on Jan. 14. Eastman will enter a plea in a court hearing Dec. 9.