Children seek grace for dad

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Al Key/DRC
John Franklin Howard, right, sits stoically with his attorneys while Judge Bruce McFarling read the life sentence handed down by the jury for hiring someone to kill his wife at the 362nd District Court in the Denton County Courthouse Thursday August 21, 2014, in Denton.
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Three ask jurors for leniency in sentencing of John Howard at trial

John and Nancy Howard’s children pleaded with jurors to show their father leniency during the punishment phase of his trial Wednesday.

John Franklin Howard was found guilty Tuesday of attempting to commit capital murder by plotting and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire hit men to kill his wife.

Nancy Howard, the mother of his three children, was shot and robbed of her purse in the garage of their Carrollton home on Aug.18, 2012. She suffered serious injuries, including the loss of her left eye.

Testimony ended before 2 p.m. Wednesday and closing arguments are set for this morning. The jury will then deliberate John Howard’s sentence, which could be from 5 to 99 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Jay Howard told jurors that his family’s foundation is built on God, faith and grace. Since Jesus has given him grace, Jay Howard said, he asks jurors to do the same for his father.

“All I can ask for is grace,” he said.

The couple’s youngest child, Brianna Griffin, said she wanted to take the stand to let jurors know that her father has been there all 23 years of her life and had always been a great man.

“I am his kid and I love him dearly,” she said in Judge Bruce McFarling’s 362nd District Court.

Griffin and her older sister, Ashley Faus, testified that their father has continued providing loving support to them, even during the two years since the shooting, and that he speaks highly of their family — including their mother.

Faus said that her father hasn’t been late on checks owed to Nancy Howard and that he is her mother’s main source of income.

“What benefit is there to keeping him away?” Faus said.

The state called two witnesses during the punishment phase. Nancy Howard finished Tuesday and Richard Raley, a former employer of John Howard’s, wrapped up before lunch Wednesday.

Nancy Howard said she received $800,000 during the couple’s divorce settlement and since January, has been getting $200 a month in alimony after 30 years of marriage. Her ex-husband has also been paying for her insurance, which costs roughly $1,100 a month, she said.

She told jurors she has gone through excruciating pain and suffering since the shooting, not only physically, but emotionally.

“I was a good wife. I worshiped the ground he walked on,” Nancy Howard told jurors.

She said she will continue to move forward and follow God’s plan for her, in spite of what’s happened.

Raley testified that John “Frank” Howard was the chief financial officer of his company, Raley Holdings LLC.

“He stole $7.6 million from me,” said Raley, who is currently in jail for violating his parole on a drug charge.

Raley testified that John Howard then used that money to make extravagant purchases for his mistress in California and to pay for the hit men.

Raley and John Howard are suing each other in a civil suit pending in Tarrant County.

While the children asked for leniency on behalf of their father, the state requested that he receive the maximum sentence.

MEGAN GRAY-HATFIELD can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.


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