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Hollywood man faces prison in Fantasy Fest death

A Hollywood man could be sentenced to life in prison Monday for fatally stabbing a former Key West High School athlete during the busy Fantasy Fest street party in 2009.

Sentencing for Nicholas Ferro is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Plantation Key Courthouse.

An Upper Keys jury found Ferro, 26, guilty of second-degree murder on Sept. 27. They said he killed Marquise Butler, then 23, on Oct. 31, 2009, during an early-morning brawl on Duval Street.

Ferro’s attorneys unsuccessfully argued self defense, claiming Ferro and his friends were attacked by an angry Key West mob that included Butler.

Ferro, his attorneys said, jumped into the middle of mêlée where his friend, Jorge Averoff, was being severely beaten. He said he pulled his pocketknife out after being knocked to the ground by Butler, who Ferro said ran into the knife's small blade when he lurched to hit Ferro again.

Butler died later that morning on a Lower Keys Medical Center operating table. The 2.5-inch blade penetrated 6 inches into Butler’s abdomen.

A jury took less than two hours to find Ferro guilty of murder, despite emotional testimony from Ferro's friends saying he saved Averoff's life.

This was the second time Ferro faced trail for killing Butler. The first trial ended in a hung jury, prompting Chief Circuit Court Judge David Audlin to declare a mistrial. The trial was moved to the Upper Keys because Butler and his family are well known in Key West.

Prosecutors Breezye Telfair and Miesha Darrough from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office took the place of Monroe County prosecutors because several staff members had tied to the Butler family. Between his trials, Ferro was released on $750,000 bond.

During closing arguments in Ferro's second trial, the O'Donnells told jurors that Ferro made a split-second decision to jump in the middle of a the melee around 4 a.m. near Caroline and Simonton streets to help Averoff fend off an attack from Butler and other locals.