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Trial date set for Lafayette man accused of fatally shooting police officer

AG’s Office sides with prosecutors on split jury acquittal in Ian Howard case
Ian Howard mugshot with background.png
Posted at 1:54 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 16:22:11-04

LAFAYETTE, La.  — A district judge set a trial date of April 25, 2022 for Ian Howard, who is accused of fatally shooting a Lafayette police officer and wounding three others in 2017.

Ian Howard, 31, was present in court Friday as his defense attorneys argued before 15th Judicial District Court Judge Valerie Gotch Garrett for a hearing over the issue for a split jury acquittal in the capital case.

The judge insisted that both sides work out a trial date. They agreed that jury selection would begin on April 25, 2022 with a two-week trial beginning on May 1, 2022.

Howard's defense attorneys also argued that a jury in his forthcoming trial could potentially deliver a verdict of either not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity from only 10 of the 12 jurors, and not a unanimous verdict as they would if they voted to convict.

Representatives from Attorney General’s Office were also present and sided with the Lafayette District Attorney’s Office over the issue for a split jury acquittal.

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.

Prosecutors argue that the intent of Louisiana voters in passing the amendment was that non-unanimous verdicts to convict should apply the same to verdicts to acquit.

Steven Vick with the Attorney General’s Office sided with the District Attorney’s position that Louisiana law now requires a unanimous jury to render any verdict, including an acquittal.

The judge said she would take the arguments, as well as several motions filed late yesterday, under advisement and deliver a ruling at a later time.

Howard 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.

Howard’s next hearing will be held on May 13 at the Lafayette Parish Courthouse.

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