ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – An Elbert County jury on Monday convicted former soldier Joe Robert Love, 28, of murder for the 2016 killing of Agate rancher Ed Butler, 68.
District Attorney George Brauchler said,”Ed Butler was shot in the head twice by a wanton killer for doing no more than being a good neighbor. I hope the community and Mr. Butler’s family can find some measure of closure and solace in knowing that this cold-blooded murderer will spend his remaining days locked up. This is why we build prisons.”
Love was found guilty of first degree murder after deliberation, first degree felony murder, kidnapping, robbery and burglary charges.
On Jan. 23, 2016, Butler was found murdered. Authorities said Love had pulled off the highway to look for a bathroom and ended up encountering Butler. Prosecutors said Love used Butler’s gun to shoot him twice in the head.
Love fled the scene, but investigators found DNA, fingerprints and other evidence that led to Love. He was arrested in 2017 at Fort Bliss, Texas where was Love was a private with the U.S. Army.
That arrest later became controversial when a judge ruled a DA’s investigator improperly obtained a confession from Love and refused to allow the confession — and other evidence — to be introduced during the trial.
Judge Gary Kramer threw out the Love confession saying an investigator for the Arapahoe County District Attorney failed to properly give Love a Miranda warning, despite the fact Love told the investigator three times he did not want to talk and could not afford an attorney.
Prosecutors say Love implicated himself in the crime during monitored calls from the jail.
Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers told the jury, ”The evidence is overwhelming that the defendant is the person who killed Ed Butler. Ed didn’t deserve this.”
Love faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced June 18.