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Man Pleads No Contest in 7-Up Truck Chase

A month after leading police on a wild ride through the San Fernando Valley in a 7-Up truck, John Edward Butner pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges of evading police and grand theft.

In exchange for his plea, Deputy Dist. Atty. Carol Fisch agreed to a sentence of three years and eight months and dropped two additional charges of grand theft for the 15-ton delivery truck and the un-cola it carried. Butner, 29, is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

He was arrested Oct. 3 after taking the truck from a West Valley market and leading police on a two-hour chase across the Valley. He was eventually found hiding in a tree in a Northridge apartment complex after crashing the truck.

The evading charges refer to the Oct. 3 chase, but the grand theft involves a prior incident in which Butner “borrowed” someone’s pickup and failed to return it, said Deputy Public Defender Steven Boysaw, who is representing him.

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Butner accepted the deal moments before a preliminary hearing on the case was set to begin. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors also agreed not to allege a Missouri robbery conviction as a prior “strike” against him, said Boysaw.


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