LAFAYETTE, La. — As expected, a district judge has granted a delay requested by attorneys for the man accused of killing Cpl. Michael Middlebrook.
Ian Howard faces two cases in connection with the October 2017 incident at a Lafayette convenience store. One is a capital case; the state is seeking the death penalty in the slaying of Middlebrook. Three other people were in the store last night, and two were injured; Howard faces a second case with three counts of attempted first-degree murder in that one.
Earlier this month, Howard's lawyers filed several motions, including one that asked for additional time to file more motions. The judge gave them more time for that, and the motion filed asked for a delay in making a decision about an insanity defense. Judge Jules Edwards granted that motion, giving the attorneys another year - until December 2, 2020 - to make that decision in the attempted murder case.
The other motions, which are set for hearing in January, 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. All these recent motions were filed in the second case, the attempted first-degree murder case. There was a January 21 trial date in that case, but since the judge has allowed the defense until December 2020 for making a decision about an insanity plea, that trial date won't go forward.
The motion Edwards granted outlines the work required to determine if an insanity defense is warranted - research, medical examinations and tracking down witnesses - and also points out that a decision about an insanity defense in the attempted murder case would also impact the murder case.
The pending motions 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. The defense have since that time obtained subpoenas for several media outlets, including KATC.
Howard remains incarcerated.