Jury selection in the second murder trial of a Hollywood, Fla., man accused of stabbing Key Wester Marques Butler to death during Fantasy Fest 2009 is slated to begin Monday in Plantation Key.
An appellate court ruled in April that jurors will not hear evidence that second-degree murder defendant Nicholas Ferro called Butler the "N-word" the night of 2 Caroline Street fight between two groups.
Ferro and Butler were involved in a 4 a.m. scuffle in Old Town Key West, after the city's annual parade, between youths from both Key West and Hollywood.
Ferro's lawyers claim he was acting in self-defense in the face of an angry crowd that attacked him.
The ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal cleared the way for circuit Judge Luis Garcia to set a Sept. 16 trial date.
Garcia also issued a gag order to attorneys on both sides, meaning the lawyers are not allowed to talk to the public, including news media, about anything regarding the case -- including scheduling.
Ferro's attorneys, father and son team Ed O'Donnell and Ed O'Donnell IV, declined to comment on the case, citing Garcia's order.
Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez confirmed the Monday trial date, but said she could not comment further.
Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Breezye Telfair and co-counsel Miesha Darrough were appointed as prosecutors by former Gov. Charlie Crist because of a potential conflict of interest with the Monroe County State Attorney's Office. Three employees in that office either knew Butler or are witnesses in the case.
Ferro faces charges of second-degree murder and resisting an officer without violence. He was released from Monroe County Detention Center after posting $752,000 bail in July. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the murder charge.
Chief circuit Judge David Audlin, who presided over the first trial that ended with a hung jury, recused himself from the pending retrial, citing "potential or possible bias, prejudice or sympathy," but did not elaborate further in court records.
His recusal pushed the trial north to Garcia's courtroom on Plantation Key.
Butler, 23, was a Key West High School athlete and graduate who was studying at Florida Keys Community College.