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Accused Man Seeks 13th Lawyer

By Staff | Aug 19, 2015

MOUNDSVILLE?-?A New Martinsville man accused of a sexual assault and kidnapping has yet to stand trial more than four years and 12 attorneys later.

John Michael Howell, 46, appeared Friday before Senior Status Judge Arthur Recht in hopes of being assigned new counsel.

On Jan. 18, 2011, Howell pleaded innocent to a four-count indictment charging him with felony sexual assault and kidnapping, occurring Dec. 14, 2010, in Wetzel County. He allegedly stabbed his former wife’s breast implant with a syringe and punched her genitals with his fist after she attempted to leave his home with their child.

During Friday’s hearing, Howell made several motions, including a request for a new lawyer and additional photo evidence for the case. He also made what he called a “Quinn motion,” saying the alleged victim in his case had made two unrelated false claims, with different defendants, prior to their marriage.

Recht was not familiar with the motion’s name or contents, but said he would research legal documents on the matter and gave the West Virginia code information on the issue to all counsel and prosecuting staff.

Howell also asked Recht for the issue of bond in the case to be re-opened, as it was previously denied by former Judge Mark Karl.

“I haven’t had any violent incidents and I don’t have a criminal record,” Howell said. “I’ve been in for years without a bond set.”

Recht said he would not grant bond Friday, but said he would look into previous files on the matter.

“This isn’t a murder case so you could be allowed a bond,” Recht said. “I want to know why you were denied one.”

The case was moved to Marshall County in July 2014, after Howell spat on Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught during a court proceeding. At Friday’s hearing, Howell did not wear a spit guard required of him in the past.

Due to the kidnapping charge wielding a possible life sentence, Howell is entitled to two lawyers. He is currently represented by Mark Panepinto and David White, but wants to replace Panepinto with another lawyer who has not been secured for the case.

Recht gave the prosecution until Sept. 8 to secure representation information and evidence. If Howell does not find another lawyer by the date, Panepinto is scheduled to appear.

During the hearing, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Herman Lantz said bloodied clothing items belonging to the alleged victim to be used as evidence will not be prepared by the originally planned trial date of Sept. 28 due to testing requirements at the State Police department.

Lantz said the prosecution will not need the clothing, as the office is in possession of the woman’s medical records. However, Howell’s defense argued they are necessary for trial, meaning the case could be moved back to Wetzel County and be pushed to January.

“It should be on the record that any delays be attribute to the defense,” Lantz said.