Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley today lauded a Suffolk Superior Court judge who handed down harsh consecutive sentences for two men convicted of killing 49-year-old Betsy Tripp in her Dorchester home five years ago.
“It’s no exaggeration to call either of them a menace to society,” Conley said of QUINCY BUTLER (D.O.B. 3/14/74) of Dorchester and WILLIAM WOOD (D.O.B. 4/17/74) of Roxbury, convicted last week of second- and first-degree murder respectively. “The world is a safer place with both of them behind bars forever.”
Judge Patrick Brady ordered Butler to serve two consecutive life terms to be followed by an additional five years. Brady further ordered those sentences to begin only after he completes an 18- to 20-year sentence for violating his probation for a 1993 armed home invasion and kidnapping that was chillingly similar to the incident that left Tripp dead and her boyfriend permanently maimed. Brady ordered Wood to serve a life term followed by 20 years for his role in Tripp’s murder and the crimes he committed before, during, and after he slit her throat with a kitchen knife.
“They’re only symbolic, but the sentences are appropriate to the horrifying brutality of the case,” Conley said.
On June 11, following two hung juries and a mistrial in previous proceedings, Butler was found guilty of second-degree murder as a joint venturer in Tripp’s murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for shooting Tripp’s boyfriend in the face when he tried to help her, and a litany of related offenses incurred on the night of Feb. 12, 2004, and the early morning of Feb. 13. Wood, who actually dragged the knife across Tripp’s throat, was found guilty of first-degree murder and other crimes.
“We’re left to imagine Betsy Tripp’s last moments of consciousness,” Conley said. “They are the stuff of nightmares.”
Prior to sentencing, the surviving witness – who wears an eyepatch because Butler shot out his left eye – said he still thinks of Tripp.
“I still love her as much as I ever did,” he said in an impact statement to the court. Of the defendants, he said, “I hope they burn in hell.”
Tripp’s father, George Tripp, also addressed the court.
“This act that took Betsy’s life did far more than just that,” he said. “It took part of her mother’s and father’s and the rest of the family’s lives. We will never fully recover from this …. It leaves us with a very empty feeling. Nothing can ever bring back our Betsy.”
Tripp’s sister, Cynthia Gorton, spoke as well.
“My sister, Betsy Jane Tripp, was brutalized and murdered in her own bedroom by two cowards,” she told the court, noting that she and her husband attended every court date related to the case and every day of all four trials. “For the past five and a half years, every time Betsy’s name was mentioned in court, we were present. This is the last thing we will ever be able to do for ‘Bets.’”
Evidence and testimony during the most recent proceedings proved that Butler and Wood, fueled by a desire for money and crack cocaine, robbed the surviving victim at gunpoint, then demanded that he bring them to the home he shared with Tripp. Once there, the defendants hogtied both victims and stole Tripp’s bank card. Using her PIN code, they were only able to withdraw $40 from her account.
Enraged by their small take, Wood slashed Tripp’s throat with a kitchen knife. When her boyfriend tried to intervene, Wood shot him in the face.
Butler was represented by attorney Larry Tipton and Wood by attorney Michael Bourbeau.