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The defendant, 21-year-old Arnold Butcher of Chester, yesterday made an "open plea" of guilt in the shooting death of former Engineering freshman Tyrone Robertson. Under this plea, Butcher did not plead guilty to a specific charge of murder, but will undergo a "degree of guilt" hearing in which the judge will hear evidence and decide if he is guilty of first or third degree murder. Butcher's hearing will start at 3 p.m. today with the testimony of the coroner who examined Robertson's body. If convicted by the judge of first degree murder, Butcher will receive a mandatory life sentence in prison. Conviction on third degree murder will bring from 5 to 20 years in jail and a maximum $25,000 fine. Butcher also pled guilty to the aggravated assault of Robertson's brother, Paul -- a charge which could also bring from 5 to 20 years and a $25,000 fine. The judge will sentence Butcher on this charge after he reaches a decision on the murder charge. If the judge decides that third degree is the appropriate crime, he can give Butcher a maximum of two consecutive 20-year prison terms. Butcher and two other Chester men, 25-year-old Michael Shaw and 24-year-old Dwight Townsend, were accused of murdering the 18-year-old Robertson after they became involved in a fight with Robertson and his brother outside a Chester seafood restaurant. Butcher reportedly called to Shaw and Townsend to help him beat up the Robertson brothers, and during the course of the fight he shot Tyrone in the buttocks, severing a major artery. After a plea bargain, Shaw and Townsend plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter yesterday. The men were originally charged along with Butcher with crimes including first degree murder. Deleware County Judge Antonio Semeraro will sentence Shaw and Townsend on March 15. They face a maximum of a five year prison term, but court guidelines suggest that first time offenders receive only up to a year in jail. The rest of Robertson's family will make a plea to the judge at the time of sentencing urging that Shaw and Townsend receive the maximum sentence. Shaw said yesterday he was "satisfied" with the plea bargain, adding he was glad he didn't have to go before a jury. "I'm real happy it's almost over," Shaw said. Paul Robertson said yesterday he was disappointed Shaw and Butcher are not facing harsher charges. "The swinging doors of the law didn't swing our way," Robertson said.

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