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Arrest made in connection with Echo Park pot dispensary slaying

Los Angeles police have arrested a man in connection with the June slaying of an employee at a medical marijuana dispensary in Echo Park.

Authorities identified the suspect as Raymond Easter. He was arrested without incident Friday afternoon at a Van Nuys apartment by officials with the LAPD and the U.S. Marshal's Service.

Matthew Butcher, 27, was working at Higher Path Holistic Care in the 1300 block of West Sunset Boulevard on June 24 when four suspects entered looking for marijuana and cash.

Butcher and another employee were ordered to lay face-down on the ground and did not resist. Even so, both were shot; Butcher died from his injuries.

That attack took place the same day as the fatal stabbing of Ila Packman at the Hollywood Holistic II dispensary in the 1600 block of North El Centro Avenue. The Times has found at least eight slayings since 2007 that are linked to the medical marijuana industry.

Butcher was the son of Julie Butcher, a well-known L.A. labor leader. At the time of the slaying she described the crime as "totally senseless," saying that her son's job at the pot store was one of several jobs he was working to get by in a tough economy.

-- Andrew Blankstein

See a map of homicides tied to the medical marijuana industry since January 2007

Comments () | Archives (15)

WHY, oh WHY does the Times have to insert this insipid propaganda into every story regarding cannabis? "The Times has found at least eight slayings since 2007 that are linked to the medical marijuana industry," oh really? Is that citywide, statewide, nationwide? And what about the dozens of deaths in Los Angeles County along every year which are "linked to" alcohol, not to mention the thousands due to the tobacco industry?

The Times, and especially Andrew Blankstein, should be ashamed for lowering their journalistic standards to the gutter. This isn't the 1930s- people are far too educated and logical to accept your tripe on blind faith.

I thought legalizing the "hippie lettuce" was supposed to end all crime...what gives here?

I applaud the police for making this arrest. I will applaud louder when Cannabis won't be worth enough money to kill anybody over, or when alcoholics quit drinking and smoke Cannabis instead.

This has nothing to do with marijuana and everything to do with murder and armed robbery. How many crimes have you found "linked to Van Nuys" or "linked to men" or "linked to Sunset Boulevard?"

I wouldn't be surprised if these thugs were hired by the crazies who kill abortion doctors and support war and the death penalty and think of those as reasonable "ends justifying the means." The Culture of Life, I think they are called. Snort. Or maybe by the foreign drug cartels themselves, who don't want Prop 19 to pass?

When a simple agricultural product no longer carries a price tag similar to precious metals, there will be no motive for people to steal it. Vote YES on Proposition 19 and end the violence perpetrated over cannabis. Cannabis doesn't lead to violence. Cannabis PROHIBITION leads to violence.

I bet there were several shootings that day,that did not include (pot shops) they are an easy target just like gas stations...robbery should be illegal that would stop them

The marijuana business is a dangerous business, filled with dangerous people. The same goes for the "medical marijuana" business - which is really just the same thing. Those of us who live near "dispensaries" know how much crime they bring on a regular basis. If you don't live near one of the stores, you have no idea what you are talking about.

Killing for product and money is nothing new; as said, this is totally senseless. You can find these killings at banks and jewelry stores, where the murder rate is higher. We must seperate people's inability to understand how beneficial medical marijuana is from their inability to understand why people will go where the money is. The LAPD said they were going to have a "protection unit" to minimize these occurences. Shutting down dispensaries who passed background checks and doing nothing about the ones who didn't pass background checks creates a problem. The last thing the LAPD wants are law abiding dispensaries to go rogue because of an injust Los Angeles ordinance. Many business operators may begin to look the other way when patients dont have cards. Perhaps they will want to go to the street to deal because they are being punished for being legal. Or maybe they will become vengeful and retaliate with violence against city officials.

When a dispensary is robbed thats just the cost of doing business. After all, they are committing tax evasion.

Paying taxes? Try getting a business account for a dispensary at a bank. Maybe they'll start paying taxes when the city becomes honest with them Mitzi.

Peter and Mitzi are out of the loop. They're comprehension is like a babys at best. They're mimmicking uninformed malice because of a fear projected on them by past stigma. Educate yourselves to the benefits; educate yourselves to the low crime statistics. Charlie Beck, LAPD chief, commented that dispensaries are not dangerous or a crime haven. Driving while medicated was proven to have the same or better results than a "sober" driver. No one has od'd or died over cannabis. Cities that have "working" ordinances and proper tax/regulation are giving our State big tax money. Crime originates with ill conceived regulation.

Thank God. Matty was a good guy, he didnt deserve that

These people were also killed around the same time in Los Angeles. None were tied to marijuana. Unfortunately, in our society, people are killed everyday for many reasons. The medical marijuana business isn't anymore dangerous than other businesses. Law enforcement just wants you to think so.

Do you people really believe that legalizing marijuana will bring millions or billions of dollars to the state? If you were selling MJ for $200.00 per ounce and the state added a $50.00 tax on that ounce I would bet most people would go to the dealer that does not report his sale to the state. Yes that's right, there will be more "black market" dealing of MJ going on because you bone head consumers won't want to pay more money. And do you think the grower in the woods is now going to report his harvest to the state so they can tax it highly? Get real people. Vote NO on 19.

Interesting that the police in 5 major cities have been unable to link dispensaries with an increase in crime. Oh, one police department that couldn't link the two was the LAPD announced by Chief Beck.

---"Those of us who live near "dispensaries" know how much crime they bring on a regular basis. If you don't live near one of the stores, you have no idea what you are talking about."---

Looked at honestly it is Peter who is clueless. His requirement that crime disappear in the vicinity of a dispensary is ludicrous. Peter, you really might benefit from researching a phenomenon commonly present in human beings called 'confirmation bias'.

Are there really people who believe the murdering thug who killed those people would have been singing in the choir at church on Sunday and helping elderly ladies cross the street had there never been a dispensary for him to target?
---"I thought legalizing the "hippie lettuce" was supposed to end all crime...what gives here?"---

The major fact that you're not using in your calculation is that cannabis is not legal. Half baked decrim with no coherent legally regulated distribution chain is not re-legalization.


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