Nazi Skinhead Gets Death in Murder of Antiracists

In a case dramatizing the often violent warfare between racist and antiracist Skinheads, a Las Vegas man has been sentenced to death for his part in the execution-style murders of two antiracists.

John Butler was convicted in December of the killings that occurred in the Nevada desert on Independence Day 1998.

Butler plans to appeal the murder conviction.

Prosecutors say that at least four people were involved in the plot to kill Lin Newborn, 25, and Daniel Shersty, 21, although so far no others have been charged.

Newborn and Shersty, one black and the other white, were fast friends and antiracist Skinheads who were well known and widely liked in Las Vegas. At the same time, they were despised by many on the neo-Nazi Skinhead scene.

According to testimony, Butler's girlfriend Melissa Hack and an unidentified woman met the two victims at a Las Vegas tattoo parlor and invited them out to the desert, promising a "party." Instead, prosecutors say, the victims were ambushed by Butler and at least one other gunman.

Shersty was shot repeatedly in front of his car with a shotgun and a .32 caliber handgun. Newborn was found 400 feet away; his wounds indicated he was shot while trying to flee.

Butler's criminal history includes over 30 arrests and convictions for exhibiting a deadly weapon, rioting, carrying a concealed weapon, burglary, petty larceny and trespassing.

At an earlier trial on an unrelated charge, Butler's mother blamed her son's racism on a black ex-convict who she claimed both raped Butler repeatedly and turned him on to drugs when Butler was only 14.

Butler allegedly led the 15-member Independent Nazi Skins while Newborn, who was black, headed a rival Skinhead crew associated with a group called Anti-Racist Action. The murders were only part of the long history of violence between racist and antiracist Skinheads that goes back to 1970s Britain.