Galberth sentence to life for murder
ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The brutal murder that shocked the community of Brookside saw its legal resolution Thursday, when Rudolph Galberth entered a plea of guilty to the aggravated murder of his wife, Amy Butler, at their Driggs Lane home.
Galberth will spend the rest of his life behind bars, with no chance for parole for more than 20 years.
Charges stem from reports of gunfire June 15. Law enforcement arrived to discover Amy Butler, 37, shot dead in her driveway from multiple gunshot wounds. Galberth was arrested later that day without incident on Interstate 77 near New Philadelphia, Ohio.
Law enforcement officials said they believe the incident began as a domestic dispute that apparently escalated to physical violence and the shooting.
Galberth, 38, of 11 Driggs Lane, Brookside, pleaded guilty before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra to aggravated murder with a firearm specification, and to one count of having weapons under disability.
Belmont County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan noted that the firearm specification carries a three-year sentence, to be served prior to the murder’s life sentence. The charge of weapons under disability was merged into the gun specification and the three-year sentence will run concurrently, for a life sentence without the possibility of parole for 23 years.
Butler’s family members submitted letters to the court. Her sisters, Valerie Maher, and Faith Butler, and mother, Darlene Butler, asked Flanagan to read them. They described Amy Butler’s and Galberth’s relationship as abusive to her.
“Amy was a most wonderful person. She gave you many chances,” Maher wrote. “You took Amy for granted, and the abuse she endured was unbearable. … You selfishly took her from this world, from her son, her family and her friends. Why? Because you could not have her.”
“Amy did not deserve to die because she wanted out of an abusive relationship with you. He could have let her get a divorce, but he chose to callously kill her,” Darlene Butler wrote. “Every day I grieve for my daughter Amy. … But knowing that he is going to be locked up, never able to hurt anyone else’s daughter, and that he will never have any of the things that he has denied my daughter, is a kind of comfort.”
“We all know you murdered Amy…You completely shattered our world,” Faith Butler wrote. “Amy gave you her heart and soul, chance after chance, forgave you every time … I hope that one day very soon, you realize how good a life you really had with Amy, and that she did not deserve to be killed by you. … I hope prison treats you exactly how you treated your wife.”
They also expressed sympathy for Galberth’s family members.
Amy Butler’s father, Bill Butler, chose to speak and addressed Galberth directly. He expressed disgust at what he saw as Galberth’s lack of remorse.
“I see no remorse on your face,” he said. “I am so sorry that I let Amy stop me from stopping you…time after time she told me: ‘Let it go dad, just let it go. I’ll take care of it,’ and I believed her. And what do you do? You shoot her … in the back.”
“I cannot fathom the depth of your mind,” Bill Butler said. “I feel such pity for your soul.”
Galberth chose not to speak.
Detective Doug Cruse of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office afterward commended the cooperation between agencies including the sheriff’s office, Bridgeport police, and the Ohio State Patrol.
“We all worked together as a whole unit, not separate agencies,” Cruse said. “Everybody worked together to bring this case to justice.”
Flanagan conveyed Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry’s satisfaction with the resolution and hoped the family finds closure.
“Rudy Galberth doesn’t deserve to ever be released from prison, and we feel that it’s highly unlikely that he will be,” Flanagan said.