Teen who killed boyfriend gets probation

His family complains his life is "worth nothing" after her guilty plea.

Published May 1, 2007

TAMPA - Accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend, 18-year-old Shernita Jane Butler faced up to 30 years in prison.

On Monday, she got five years of probation instead.

Butler, 17 when she stabbed Kenyon Floyd in April 2006, pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter with a weapon.

A prosecutor said Floyd, 24, had driven to the home of Butler's aunt on Ashland Drive, where Butler was living. The couple fought in the front yard. Butler suspected Floyd was cheating on her.

She plunged a steak knife into his chest, breaking his breastbone and puncturing his heart with a single blow.

The young woman admitted the act. But she was prepared to claim either self-defense or accidental death as her trial defense.

The state had no witnesses or physical evidence to refute that, prosecutors said.

"All we have is circumstantial evidence, " Assistant State Attorney Kristen Over said.

Prosecutors also had a recent appellate decision to consider. In the fall, the 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned the manslaughter conviction of Melvin Stacy Jenkins after ruling that he had killed a man in self-defense.

Police records showed Floyd had previously threatened Butler, but she never wanted to prosecute. Butler has prior juvenile charges of assaulting law enforcement and obstructing an officer. In February, while out of jail on bail, she allegedly battered her stepsister. The charge is pending.

Her history, and the minimal sentence for Floyd's death, left some of his family unsettled.

"We're not satisfied with it, " said Frank Floyd, an uncle. "It just seems like a human being's life is not worth nothing."

Butler, a high school dropout, must stay away from Floyd's family, perform 50 hours of community service and undergo psychological evaluations as part of her probation.