LAFAYETTE, La. — The Lafayette man accused of gunning down a Lafayette Police officer in 2017 returns to court Friday after months of delay in the case.
A hearing is set for Friday in the Ian Howard capital case, which was delayed last summer while his attorneys appealed a decision by a Lafayette district judge that kept Howard's current defense team in place after one of them was fired from the non-profit law firm that represented him.
According to court documents, Howard’s defense attorneys argue that he is entitled to an acquittal if 10 out of 12 jurors agree that he is not guilty.
The document states that a verdict of conviction must be unanimous, but that any other verdict could be made by only 10 of the jurors.
Howard’s attorneys argue that a verdict of either not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity requires only 10 jurors to make, but according to the U.S. Constitution a verdict to convict must be unanimous.
The United States Supreme Court decision in Ramos vs Louisiana ruled last year that any conviction must be made by a unanimous verdict of 12 jurors.
In November 2018, Louisiana voters also approved a constitutional amendment that requires a unanimous verdict from juries in non-capital cases. However, the law only applies to the court cases of crimes that took place on or after Jan. 1, 2019.
According to the a response filed by state prosecutors in the case, the Ramos decision found that any scheme that allowed for a non-unanimous verdict is unconstitutional, and that verdicts required unanimity not just guilty verdicts.
Howard, 31, has two pending cases against him: 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 other alleged victims.
A hearing is set to determine Howard's representation is set for March 26 at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.
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