Court of Appeals Affirms Howell Sentence
According to the Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, an order affirming the sentence of John Michael Howell, 49, to life with mercy was affirmed by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
Howell pleaded guilty to kidnapping on January 4, 2016, and was sentenced to life with mercy. He then appealed the sentence, alleging he should be eligible for parole after 10 years, instead of 15 years as set forth in the sentencing order. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision, upholding the life sentence with possibility of parole after 15 years.
According to the prosecutor’s office statement, “Parole is a matter determined by the West Virginia Parole Board after considering input from the victim, police, prosecutor and Circuit Judge.”
“Howell has been incarcerated since his arrest in 2010. He will not be seen by the Parole Board until 2025.”
Howell was given four charges by the January 2011 Grand Jury. Those charges were kidnapping, second degree attempted sexual assault, first degree sexual assault, and malicious assault. The acts were allegedly committed by Howell on December 14, 2010.
In the five years, prior to his plea, there were nearly a dozen changes in counsel, on Howell’s part.
Furthermore, Howell’s case saw a change in prosecution after Howell spit on Prosecuting Attorney Haught in open court, creating a conflict of interest.
The case was then taken by Jeff Cramer, Marshall County Prosecutor. However, after Cramer’s appointment to Circuit Judge, Rhonda Wade then prosecuted the case. Howell was also ordered to wear a spit guard, while in court, after the spitting incident.
Howell’s appeal was handled by the West Virginia Attorney Generals Criminal Appeal Division.