Karl Considers Home Confinement For Howell
A heated discussion took place between the state and the defense during Docket Day in Wetzel County Circuit Court on Jan. 18 as Wetzel County Prosecutor Tim Haught and Attorney Frederick Gardner strongly disagreed on the issue of bond in the case of John Michael Howell, 42, of HC 61 Box 114, New Martinsville. After hearing from both parties, Judge Mark A. Karl agreed to take the matter under advisement and stated he would give a decision Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. Howell was remanded to the Northern Regional Jail.
Howell was charged in Wetzel County Magistrate Court with one count each of sexual assault in the first degree, malicious wounding, and kidnapping following an alleged assault against to his wife to have occurred the evening of Dec. 14 at his residence. The two had been separated since Aug. 26 and have a child in common.
Frederick Gardner, appointed co-council to Howell alongside Attorney Jeremiah Gardner, recommended Howell be allowed to make bond and reside at home for the time being. Frederick Gardner noted Howell had been “violently assaulted” while in the Northern Regional Jail and was sent to the hospital last Friday. “His safety is at risk,” Frederick Gardner said. Furthermore, Howell’s attorneys argued he was not a flight risk and had not been convicted of any criminal offense other than speeding. Additionally, it was noted Howell would accept being placed on home confinement as a condition of his bond.
However, Haught was strongly opposed to the defense’s recommendation. “This is the most grisly case the State of West Virginia has seen in Wetzel County as long as I’ve been Prosecuting Attorney,” Haught said. “Home confinement is simply not appropriate, even on bond, for someone who has committed such a violent act.” Haught went on to say he believed that due to the seriousness of the possible penalties Howell was in fact a flight risk as well as a danger to the victim and the public at large. The state stood firm in recommending Howell be held without bond on the kidnapping charge.
Even with that said, Frederick Gardner resolved, “We feel his past conduct is such that he can be trusted to appear.”