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Deadline extended for insanity plea of accused cop killer

The decision by defense attorneys for Ian Howard to pursue a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity will be delayed once more.
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Posted at 5:14 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 18:14:40-05

LAFAYETTE, La. — Defense attorneys for Ian Paul Howard, the man accused of fatally shooting a Lafayette Police Department officer and wounding three others, have requested even more time to decide if they will pursue an insanity defense ahead of his jury trial early next year.

Howard, 29, was present in court on Monday along with his attorneys Elliot Brown and Stephen Singer before 15th Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards.

Defense attorneys discussed their progress on making a determination on Howard’s mental state with the judge in his chambers.

When they returned, the judge was convinced that their delayed progress was “reasonable” and allowed them until Jan. 2 to determine if they will proceed with a defense based on a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Edwards then heard a motion to declare unconstitutional certain portions of state law that would ultimately allow the verdict at Howard’s trial be determined by a unanimous jury decision.

Last week, the defense moved to have portions of Article 795 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure, which establishes the procedures by which the court evaluates and rules on challenges during jury selection, declared unconstitutional.

Last month, Edwards ruled that Howard’s trial will be allowed to be determined by a unanimous jury verdict.

The Attorney General’s Office then responded on Oct. 31 by requesting an extension of 30 days to file an appeal with the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals due to “substantial personnel changes” at their office.

While the motion for more time was filed by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, Assistant Attorney General Taylor Gray was not present at Monday’s hearing.

The judge offered to prosecutors and the defense to have the hearing without Gray or a representative from the Attorney General’s Office present, but said he would be open to having the hearing reset.

Singer then called Gray directly and informed him that the hearing was currently happening without him present. He then relayed through Singer his request to have the hearing reset to a later date.

Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Hebert then offered to text Gray in order to determine an available date to reset the hearing.

The judge then offered several dates in November to have the hearing, which Hebert then transmitted to Gray. After Gray said that he would be unavailable for any of those dates, the judge then set the hearing for Nov. 12 saying that Gray could “come free or come in cuffs.”

Gray then responded via text that he would be at that hearing saying that there was “no need for cuffs.”