Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Man charged in killing

by on May 27, 2014 11:00 AM

GRANT TOWNSHIP — A Marion Center man shot and killed a neighbor in a dispute over the neighbor accepting food from the suspect’s mother, authorities reported Monday.

James Buterbaugh, 59, of 431 Hartman Road, confessed that he shot David Ackerson, 51, of 353 Buterbaugh Road, late Sunday afternoon after they had spent time drinking beer together, state police reported in a criminal complaint filed in Blairsville District Court.

The deadly confrontation took place on a gas well road between their homes, officials reported.

Buterbaugh told police he accused Ackerson of “mooching” food from Buterbaugh’s mother and threatened to shoot him, then fired a single shot when Ackerson challenged him to fire the gun.

The men began their day together about 8 a.m., according to Buterbaugh’s confession, when Ackerson woke him from his sleep in his pickup truck outside Ackerson’s residence and each drank a beer.

Buterbaugh told troopers they visited Ackerson’s brother, then went to Ackerson’s house and each had another beer, court papers show.

Ackerson went to church, and Buterbaugh went back to sleep in the pickup truck.

Hours later, Buterbaugh told police, Ackerson approached and woke him again. This time, Ackerson had two plates of food given to him by Buterbaugh’s mother — one plate for each of them — and Buterbaugh angrily accused Ackerson of being a moocher and drove to the gas well road.

Buterbaugh told investigators that Ackerson followed him to the road and approached him, and Buterbaugh threatened to shoot Ackerson.

“Go ahead and shoot me,” Ackerson dared him, according to the complaint.

It was 5:55 p.m.

Buterbaugh fired once and Ackerson stumbled away and collapsed, police said. Buterbaugh phoned 911 to report the shooting and sat in his truck until police arrived.

Police said Buterbaugh twice confessed to the shooting — first, at the scene of the shooting at 6:56 p.m., before Ackerson died of his wound. In that conversation, Mackanick reported, Buterbaugh had bloodshot eyes, a strong odor of alcoholic beverages about him and several empty beer cans in his truck.

Buterbaugh gave a more detailed statement at the state police station at 11:36 p.m., telling police he intentionally shot Ackerson, according to police.

Indiana County Coroner Jerry Overman Jr. reported that Ackerson was rushed to Indiana Regional Medical Center, where a doctor in the emergency department declared him dead at 7:26 p.m. An autopsy performed Monday at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown showed Ackerson died of the wound to his upper abdomen, and Overman ruled the death a homicide.

Buterbaugh is being held without bond at the Indiana County Jail and has been charged with criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of simple assault and one count of recklessly endangering another person.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. June 4 before District Judge Jennifer Rega in Blairsville.



Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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