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Deadline on insanity defense for accused cop killer Ian Howard delayed

Decision depends on the outcome of U.S. Supreme Court ruling on constitutionality of state’s unanimous jury law
Posted at 2:17 PM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 12:09:29-04

Defense attorneys for the man accused of fatally shooting a Lafayette Police Department officer and injuring three others, Ian Paul Howard, are requesting more time to decide if they will pursue an insanity defense ahead of his jury trial later this fall.

Howard, 29, has two pending cases: a first-degree murder case in the 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 collateral victims.

A felony trial for Howard’s attempted first degree murder charges are set for Nov. 18. No date has yet been set for his first degree murder charge.

Court records show that Howard’s attorneys moved last week to have 15th Judicial District Court Judge Jules Edwards delay Howard’s trial for one count of first degree murder and three counts of attempted first degree murder pending the outcome of Ramos vs. Louisiana, which is set to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court when it returns in October.

The case of Ramos vs. Louisiana involves Evangelisto Ramos, who was indicted in 2015 for second degree murder and later found guilty by 10 out of 12 jurors under the old provision of Louisiana’s constitution that allowed non-unanimous jury verdicts. Ramos then appealed his conviction all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it currently waits to be heard.

Last fall, Louisiana voters 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.

In addition to the request for more time, Howard’s counsel are now seeking additional evidence from police including notes, statements and audio and video from dashcam footage taken at the crime scene for use at the trial, according to court documents.

Defense counsel will now have until Oct. 31 to make a decision on presenting an insanity defense.