Court Hears Arguments In Howell’s Bond Debate
The discussion of bond for John Michael Howell, 42, of HC 61 Box 114, New Martinsville, continued in Wetzel County Circuit Court on Tuesday with Judge Mark A. Karl presiding. After hearing from two witnesses Judge Karl stated he would take the matter under further advisement. Howell was remanded to the Northern Regional Jail and will return Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.
Frederick Gardner, one of Howell’s attorneys, called Carolyn Howell to the stand. Gardner stated to the court that during a domestic violence protective order hearing held in December, Judge Hicks awarded the victim in the case exclusive use of Howell’s home. Because of this, the defendant presently has nowhere to reside. However Carolyn, the defendant’s mother, testified she and her husband were willing and able to house Howell if he were granted bond and released on home confinement. Carolyn shared with the court that their home has electricity, land-line telephone service, and two spare rooms. Additionally, her husband has sufficient income to pay the bills as well as pay the hook-up fees and daily fees to home confinement.
Gardner then asked what Carolyn or her husband would do if Howell were to leave the residence, violating his terms of bond. Carolyn stated most assuredly that she or any other family member would call the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office. She also stated she and her husband are retired and rarely leave the house, and that she would be sure to never leave Howell in the house alone.
Lastly, Gardner brought up the fact that Carolyn is presently on federal probation for a felony conviction. Carolyn confirmed this fact and stated she spoke with an officer who said Howell’s living with her shouldn’t be a problem.
Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Haught then questioned Carolyn. He confirmed that Carolyn hasn’t actually asked her parole officer if housing her son would be an issue or not. However Carolyn responded with, “I’m sure he would approve it.”
Haught then asked about her felony conviction. Carolyn served 10 months in federal prison and two months at a half-way house after admitting to one count of devising a scheme using wire communications to defraud an elderly couple to obtain money and property. As part of the scheme, Carolyn obtained access to an elderly couple’s home and personal information in the course of providing them in-home care services. As a result of her scheme, Carolyn caused total losses of approximately $70,000. Per her sentence she is now serving three years of supervised release.
“Would you agree that that was a crime of dishonesty?” Haught asked Carolyn. She replied, “Yes.” In further stating his point that Carolyn would not be a trustworthy individual to watch over Howell, Haught then pointed out to the court that she, living only 600 feet from Howell’s residence, had the opportunity, but failed to call police the night Howell committed the assault on his wife.
Haught then called Terry Long, victim’s advocate investigator, to testify. Long stated he had discussed the possibility of Howell being released on bond with the victim and relayed to the court that she is very fearful of such a possibility. He reiterated that she would not feel safe if he was released. A letter the victim wrote regarding the matter was then presented to the court. At the request of Frederick Gardner, Judge Karl read the letter to himself, and moved to take the matter under advisement.