LAFAYETTE, La. — The trial date for the man accused of gunning down a Lafayette Police Department officer and wounding three others, Ian Paul Howard, has been pushed back to early next year.
Howard was in court Monday before 15th Judicial District Judge Jules Edwards as his defense attorneys sparred with state prosecutors over several motions in his attempted murder case.
The defense is seeking access to physical evidence including the chance to inspect Howard’s vehicle that was at the crime scene, which is currently in the possession of the Louisiana State Police.
Howard’s attorneys were also asking the judge to exclude certain pieces of evidence, including all statements made by Howard and all video footage taken at the crime scene.
Edwards had previously set an Aug. 30 deadline for the state to list which of Howard's statements and videos and photographs will be used at trial.
The defense stated that it could not begin its work on the litigation until it received notice of exactly what evidence the state intends to use. However, the prosecutor countered that the state will use all evidence they have, and that they've already told that to defense attorneys.
“They have had everything in discovery for over a year,” said Assistant District Attorney Kenny Hebert. “We don’t even know what the plea is: not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity. We don’t know what their defense is going to be.”
Assistant District Attorney Alan Haney then explained to the court that he had an informal conversation with defense attorney Elliott Brown while the two were in court for a separate case. Haney said he had discussed with Brown what evidence the state was planning to use.
However, Haney admitted that he had not entered his account into the official court record.
“We have an order that was not complied with,” said Edwards.
“I disagree with the ruling that I didn’t comply with the order,” said Haney. “I told him in person, but I should have put it in writing.”
“I’m giving you a choice in either excluding any and all statements or stay (delay) the trial,” said Edwards.
The state agreed to have the trial pushed back, which the judge moved from Nov. 18 to Jan. 21, 2020.
Howard, 29, has two pending cases: 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.
No date has yet been set for his first degree murder charge trial; the state has said they plan to seek the death penalty in that trial.
Defense counsel will now have until Oct. 31 to make a decision on presenting an insanity defense.
Howard will be back in court on Sept. 30.