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Judge denies bond for Ian Howard in Middlebrook slaying - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Judge denies bond for Ian Howard in Middlebrook slaying

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LAFAYETTE -

The preliminary examination and bond hearing has ended tonight in Lafayette for the accused killer in Cpl Michael Middlebrook slaying.

Tuesday evening a judge ruled to deny Howard's bond saying there was enough evidence to hold him on a first-degree murder charge in Middlebrook's death.

Read below for more on the hearing Tuesday.

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 A man who rode passenger with Ian Howard to the eventual scene of Lafayette Cpl. Michael Middlebrook's killing testified Tuesday that Howard talked that night about the Las Vegas mass shooting that happened earlier in the day, and at one point he asked his passenger: "Don't you think tonight is a good night to die?"

However, that testimony is inconsistent with the timetable of events that night.  The Las Vegas shooting took place around 10:15 p.m. Pacific Time, or 12:15 a.m. Central Time--more than an hour after the Middlebrook shooting. However, there was another mass shooting earlier that day; five people were shot, and three died, in a Kansas City shooting. 

Howard's passenger took the stand in a preliminary examination and bond hearing, where the judge will determine whether there's enough evidence for Howard's continued holding on a first-degree murder charge in Middlebrook's death. Testimony in the day-long hearing continued Tuesday evening.

A State Police investigator also testified Tuesday that he found no evidence of premeditation or motive in last year's slaying of Lafayette Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, whose accused killer faces the death penalty.

State Police Trooper Christopher Ledet, the lead investigator in Middlebrook's slaying, took the stand at 10:15 a.m. Aside from a lunchtime recess, he continued his testimony through much of the afternoon.

In court, Ledet identified Howard as the man who shot Middlebrook outside a Moss Street convenience store, as captured that night in surveillance and body camera videos.

Ledet said that examinations of Howard's phone, hard drive, vehicle and apartment revealed no evidence that he intended to shoot a police officer or commit any kind of violence. He said a man rode passenger with Howard when they arrived at the convenience store that night, and that man was first to enter the convenience store.

Surveillance video showed Howard stayed in the car and appeared to use his phone, but no evidence in the phone showed any communications related to what would soon transpire, Ledet said. He said no evidence showed Howard's passenger had any ill will toward the clerk, who suffered a shooting injury that night.

The investigator also said that to his knowledge, Howard had not consumed drugs at the crime scene or in the hours or days prior to the shooting. He also said he had no knowledge of toxicology report results, although the investigation revealed Howard was prescribed, took and sold Adderall and used cocaine.

No substances were found on his person or in his car that night, although police found prescription bottles and a glass pipe at Howard's apartment. There, they also found an AR-15 firearm and the box for the 9mm police found in Howard's Ford Escape, as well as receipts for both guns.

Along with Middlebrook's Glock and Howard's 9mm, police on the scene found a 9mm gun that belonged to the clerk, Ledet said.

Howard also faces two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the Oct. 1 shooting, during which two others were injured.

Howard's attorneys sought to call those people to the stand on Tuesday, but state prosecutors objected. Fifteenth Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards ruled that only those victims who hadn't filed victim paperwork in the crime could testify, while those who had could not.

Indirect victims of crimes, including family members of those directly targeted by crimes, have to fill out certain paperwork that registers them as a victim in the case, according to statements made in court. That registration prevents them from having to testify at pretrial hearings.

The state said it intends to seek an appeals court's review of the ruling.

State prosecutors also questioned Howard's competency at the start of the hearing.

In the earliest hearings in the case, Howard had appeared disoriented and unable to effectively communicate with the judge and his attorneys. On Tuesday, Howard's attorneys disagreed that a competency hearing was necessary, stating that Howard "is very different" from where he was five months ago.

Howard faces the death penalty.

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