LAFAYETTE, La. – Attorneys for the man accused of gunning down a Lafayette police officer in 2017 returned to court on Friday to plead for an acquittal of the divided jury in the capital case. However, a hearing won’t take place until April when the attorney general’s office is notified.
Ian Howard, 31, attended the first capital hearing since last summer, which was delayed while his attorneys appealed a ruling by a Lafayette district judge regarding his nonprofit defense team.
Howard’s defense attorneys argue that if 10 out of 12 jurors agree he is not guilty, even if a verdict must be unanimous for conviction, he is entitled to an acquittal.
According to the United States Constitution, a judgment must be unanimous for conviction. Non-unanimous judgments were banned in Louisiana last year after the US Supreme Court ruling against Louisiana in Ramos ruled that a conviction must be passed by a unanimous verdict of 12 jurors.
The prosecutors and Howard’s defense agreed that Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office must be informed of the constitutionality of an acquittal by the split jury in the case.
Howard, 31, has two pending cases against him: a first degree murder on October 1, 2017, in which the death of Lafayette Cpl was shot. Michael Middlebrook – for whom prosecutors intend to pursue the death penalty – and, in a separate case, three charges of attempted first degree murder involving the other alleged victims.
A hearing is due to determine that the Howard jury’s verdict is scheduled for April 16 at the Lafayette Township Courthouse.
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