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Former soldier convicted in shooting death of rancher

Posted at 11:49 AM, Mar 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-19 13:49:36-04

ELBERT COUNTY — A former soldier has been convicted on all counts in the shooting death of Elbert County rancher Edward Butler.

Murder victim, Edward Butler

The 18th Judicial D.A.’s office says 28-year-old Joe Robert Love was found guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree felony murder, second-degree kidnapping, aggravated robbery and first-degree burglary.

Convicted murderer, Joe Robert Love

Prosecutors say the crime happened on January 23rd, 2016 when Love was passing through Elbert County and pulled off the highway to search for a bathroom. Love ended up at the end of a rural road on a ranch that Butler was keeping an eye on for the owners who were out of town.

Love went into a trailer on the property and started to rummage through the home and eat food inside when Butler arrived to discovered the intruder.

As Butler confronted Love, the 68-year-old rancher was forced to go outside where his gun was taken from his hip holster and used in the murder.

Love left the scene, but was later arrested at Ft. Bliss, Texas after being connected to the crime by DNA and fingerprint evidence.

Joe Robert Love will be sentenced on June 18th and is expected to receive the mandatory murder sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

District Attorney George Brauchler says of the conviction, “I hope the community and Mr. Butler’s family can find some measure of closure and solace in knowing that this cold-blooded murderer will spend his remaining days locked up. This is why we build prisons.”