Killer in Butler County case may have wanted to trigger book deal
A killer's attempt to withdraw his plea in a double murder may have been a ploy to generate publicity so his mother, a murder-mystery publisher, could get a book deal about him, jailhouse recordings released on Thursday show.
Butler County prosecutors gave a recording of March 6 phone calls between Colin Abbott and his biological mother, Deborah Buchanan, to a judge during a hearing on Thursday on Abbott's request to withdraw his no-contest plea to killing his father and stepmother. They played them for media afterward.
“To start the ball rolling, why don't you just email (defense at-torneys) and say, ‘My son wants to pull his plea,' and let's just see what chaos it starts,” Abbott said in the recording, which Butler County Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Simon said was made in the Butler County Prison. “(An attorney) will come over here and say, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?' and I'll say I want to pull my plea.”
Buchanan of Rockaway, N.J., said she couldn't remember what was said in the jailhouse conversations with her son.
She confirmed she's seeking a book or movie deal about the case.
The retired accountant, 64, said she is the owner of Deadly Ink Press, which focuses on murder mysteries. She said that if she couldn't find a publisher for her planned book about the case, she'd publish it on her own.
In the recording, Abbott told Buchanan, “The end result is, even if I end up upstate, it's a publicity start in the right direction for you. Possibly for a book, possibly for other things. I just want you to get your money back, that's all I'm trying to say.”
Buchanan said she helped pay for her son's defense but that she didn't know how much.
At one point, his mother said, “Let's just go for it.”
The two refer to “the West Coast guy,” who could represent them.
On March 19, the Tribune-Review received an email from Larry Garrison, president of Calif.-based SilverCreek Entertainment, who said he was representing Buchanan and working on a book and movie deal.
The day of the calls, Buchanan emailed defense attorney Wendy Williams, chief public defender Kevin Flaherty, Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger and Judge William Shaffer, saying that her son wanted to withdraw his plea, according to an email contained in a court filing.
By March 11, Abbott, 43, of Rutherford, N.J., filed a court motion saying he was pressured by his defense team and the court into pleading no contest Feb. 26 to third-degree murder in the killings. Shaffer sentenced him less than 24 hours later to between 35 and 80 years in state prison.
Shaffer didn't rule on Abbott's request to withdraw his plea, but he granted defense attorney Williams' motion to withdraw from the case.
With the plea, Abbott accepted prosecutors' allegations that he shot Kenneth and Celeste Abbott on their sprawling Brady estate on July 13, 2011, and burned their remains. Prosecutors said Abbott, who could have received the death penalty, wanted to inherit his father's estate and hide thefts of large amounts of money from his father.
Buchanan said she and her son haven't discussed details of Kenneth and Celeste Abbott's killings, including her son's false claim that they died in a traffic accident, because of the court proceedings, but she believes her son did not kill the couple.
Simon said the recordings show Abbott should not be allowed to withdraw his plea.
Abbott told Shaffer that if he had more time between the plea and sentence, “There's no way we would be here today,” and he would have instead gone to trial on the murder charges.
Simon countered that there was no “manifest injustice” in Abbott's plea or sentence.
Williams said she's confident she handled the case properly and that the end result “was the best outcome for Colin Abbott.”
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Investigations firm cuts jobs in 2 W.Pa. counties
- Zelienople development plans slowed by zoning
- PPG regional headquarters opens in Cranberry, adds 150 jobs
- Butler County briefs: Butler bans exotic pets from public events
- Glitches could force quicker upgrades for Butler emergency services
- Spending history to appear on Butler County budget
- Butler County sees spike in new homes sales
- Butler, city workers aim to iron out contract details by year’s end
- Butler Salvation Army driven to go it alone
- GSA to examine VA lease contracts after collapse of Butler Twp. deal
- FedEx facility in Butler County could bring hundreds of jobs