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DA to seek death penalty against Lafayette officer's accused kil - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

DA to seek death penalty against Lafayette officer's accused killer

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Ian Howard Ian Howard

District Attorney Keith Stutes said he plans to seek the death penalty against Ian Howard, the man accused in the slaying of Lafayette Police Cpl. Mike Middlebrook.

Stutes made the announcement during a Wednesday hearing to determine if the 27-year-old Howard can afford to hire his own attorneys. The hearing began shortly after a grand jury handed up a first-degree murder indictment against Howard in Middlebrook’s death.

Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards was set to hear other issues on Wednesday, including a preliminary examination detailing the initial facts in the case But the hearing ultimately centered around whether Howard could in fact afford to hire his own attorney, as he had previously indicated to a commissioner three days after his arrest.

Howard appeared in the heavily guarded courtroom shackled and wearing an orange-striped jumpsuit and sheriff-issued bulletproof vest. Four Lafayette Parish sheriff’s deputies escorted him into the courtroom, and at least eight more armed deputies and bailiffs were present during the hearing. At least another six deputies wearing bulletproof vests marked with “INTEL” stood guard outside the courthouse.

No one from the public attended the hearing.

Speaking in court, Howard claimed he hadn’t been able to make a phone call since his arrest, including to contact his parents about his legal representation.

“I have the financial capability to hire a lawyer, but I was never able to talk to a lawyer,” he told the judge, adding that he had never hired the attorneys with the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center who have begun mounting his defense.

The New Orleans-based nonprofit organization has a contract with the Louisiana Public Defender Board to represent capital cases that could lead to life imprisonment or the death penalty. Attorney Stephen Singer had filed a number of motions in the case, including about the allegations that Howard hadn’t been allowed a phone call.

Prosecutors responded to the allegation in a court filing alleging the Lafayette Parish warden had offered Howard daily phone calls, which he denied, and that he never asked to speak to either his parents or attorneys.

Howard’s parents were not present in court, but his father filed a sworn affidavit on his behalf to confirm he could not afford a private attorney. But the judge required Howard to make that claim on his own, which he would not do.

“I have a friend who’s a lawyer. He could probably represent me for free,” Howard told the judge. But he would not provide those names in court or provide any evidence that he had the financial ability to hire his own lawyer.

Edwards finally had Howard speak with the local public defender, Chad Ikerd, who first met with Howard after his arrest. Howard argued in court that Ikerd was not the same public defender he had spoken with.

After conferring with the defender in private, Howard agreed to the representation of the LCAC attorneys who enrolled on his behalf.

Because of Howard’s indictment, he is now in line for a bond hearing that will happen after his Oct. 24 arraignment.

State Police arrested Howard the night he’s accused of shooting and injuring two clerks at a Moss Street convenience store and shooting and killing Middlebrook when he responded to the scene. Howard was also accused of shooting at another officer after the incident.

On those shootings, a grand jury on Wednesday also handed up a separate indictment against Howard on three counts of attempted first-degree murder..

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