The man accused of fatally shooting a Lafayette police officer and wounding three others, Ian Paul Howard, will go on trial for attempted murder on Nov. 18.
Howard, 29, appeared before the judge in a protective vest in a Lafayette Parish courtroom Tuesday morning for a hearing to set a trial date and determine if his defense attorneys would pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempted murder case.
Judge Jules Edwards had originally set a deadline for the defense to make their decision back in December, but agreed to extend it to allow defense attorneys more time to consider an insanity plea.
After defense attorneys met with Edwards behind closed doors without representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, he explained that the defense had not yet made a decision on a plea for insanity because they were having problems finding expert witnesses. He then extended that deadline again to Sept. 18.
“They are just delaying the inevitable,” said Assistant District Attorney Alan Haney. “We set this date today to make a decision.”
“The defense does not have an expert because the state does not have the money to provide one,” Edwards responded. “I don’t hear the prosecution asking the legislature to provide more funding to the state’s mental health program.”
Howard has two pending cases: a first-degree murder case in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting death of Lafayette Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, for which prosecutors intend to pursue the death penalty, and in a separate case, three charges of attempted first-degree murder that involve the collateral victims from that night.
Tuesday’s proceedings were exclusively for the attempted murder. A trial date has yet to be set for Howard’s first degree murder case.