LAFAYETTE, La. — Attorneys for the man accused of gunning down a Lafayette Police officer in 2017 returned to court Friday to argue for a split jury acquittal in the capital case, but a hearing won't come until April pending notification of the Attorney General's Office.
Ian Howard, 31, was present in court for the first hearing in the capital case since last summer, which was delayed while his attorneys appealed a decision by a Lafayette district judge regarding his non-profit defense team.
Howard’s defense attorneys argue that he is entitled to an acquittal if 10 out of 12 jurors agree that he is not guilty, even if a verdict to convict must be unanimous.
According to the United States Constitution, a verdict to convict must be unanimous. Last year, non-unanimous verdicts in Louisiana were outlawed after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Ramos vs Louisiana ruled that any conviction must be made by a unanimous verdict of 12 jurors.
Prosecutors and Howard's defense agreed that Attorney General Jeff Landry's office must be notified about the constitutionality of a split jury acquittal in the case.
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 jury verdict is set for April 16 at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.
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