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Accused Middlebrook shooter wants evidence thrown out

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2020-01-09 13:12:50-05

LAFAYETTE, La. — Attorneys for the man accused of killing Cpl. Michael Middlebrook have filed several motions in the case.

Ian Howard's lawyers want the court to throw out evidence taken from his house during the execution of search warrants, they want the trial moved to another venue and they want more time to file more motions to suppress evidence collected by the state.

The motions were filed in one of two indictments against Howard in the October 2017 incident. Middlebrook died after being shot responding to a call at a Moss Street convenience store. Also during that incident, three other people were in the store, and two of them were injured. Howard was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder in Middlebrook's slaying, and faces the death penalty in that case. He also was indicted on three counts of attempted first-degree murder in connection with the other victims.

The motions in question were filed in the second case, the attempted first-degree murder case. There is a January 21 trial date in that case.

Judge Jules Edwards had set a deadline of December 2 for motions in that case, and these motions were filed on that date, records show. However, one of those motions asks the court for another week to file motions.

Howard's attorneys say that pre-trial work, coupled with their other cases, means they weren't able to finish all of the motions they want to file.

The motions they did file include a motion to suppress evidence seized during the execution of a search warrant at Howard's home. According to the motion, 10 search warrants were executed during the investigation: one at the scene of the crime, one for a vehicle, one for Howard's apartment, two for cellular phones, one for Howard's person, one for Howard's Facebook account, two for his medical records, and one for the medical records of the two injured victims.

The motion claims the searches were conducted using warrants that were invalid, not based on probable cause and overly broad, and that the searches exceeded the scope of the warrants. These are common claims made by defendants seeking to suppress evidence against them in criminal cases.

In this case, Howard wants all evidence seized at his apartment to be suppressed with the exception of a handgun seized. He wants all evidence, including DNA, related to his cell phone suppressed, he wants his medical records suppressed and he wants his Facebook account suppressed.

Howard also wants his trial moved, because there's too much prejudice in the minds of Lafayette jurors to give him a fair trial. The motion outlines pre-trial publicity, including media coverage of the incident two years ago, as well as the statements issued by government officials in the wake of Middlebrook's death. The motion states that media coverage of Howard's cases is "thorough" and not likely to cease being thorough.

The motion notes how many times a KATC video was viewed, as well as the renaming of a local school in Middlebrook's honor.

"Numerous memorial events continue to be held to this date for Corporal Middlebrook and are publicized in the media and the Lafayette Parish Police Department (sic), keeping alive the public's attitudes and prejudices against Mr. Howard, makin git impossible to seat a fair and impartial jury from Lafayette's jury pool," the motion states.

Howard's attorneys argue that anyone from Lafayette who was placed on a jury wouldn't feel comfortable being impartial, because they would be afraid of community reaction.

There is a hearing set for tomorrow in the case, to consider previously filed motions. There's also a pre-trial hearing set for December 20, records show.

Howard remains incarcerated.