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Trial to begin Monday

Profile image for By Megan Gray-Hatfield
By Megan Gray-Hatfield

Jury selection set in case of man accused of planning wife’s death

It’s been nearly two years since Nancy Ann Howard was shot in the face at her Carrollton home, and now the man police believe was linked to her attempted murder is facing trial this week.

Jury selection is set to begin Monday for John Franklin Howard on a charge of attempted capital murder. The Ponder man is accused of planning his wife’s death over the course of at least three years while shelling out thousands of dollars to hire a hit man, according to Carrollton police investigators.

First Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck, one of three lead prosecutors in the case, said the Denton County District Attorney’s Office will be going forward with only this one indictment so his sentences can be stacked instead of served concurrently if found guilty.

John Howard, formerly a Carrollton-based accountant, was charged in connection with the shooting with six counts of solicitation to commit capital murder by terroristic threat, one count of attempt to commit capital murder and one count of conspiracy to commit capital murder.

On Aug. 18, 2012, Carrollton police were dispatched to the 1500 block of Bluebonnet Way after Nancy Howard was shot in the face in her garage, according to a Carrollton police arrest affidavit.

Nancy Howard told police she was confronted by a white man in his early 20s in the garage of the Howards’ Carrollton home, police documents show. She said he put a silver-colored handgun to her head and demanded her purse.

She gave the man her purse and then was shot in the face, according to police records.

Police say Nancy Howard, John Howard’s wife of nearly 30 years, suffered serious injuries as a result of the gunshot wound, including the loss of her left eye.

In July 2012, Carrollton police stopped Dustin Taylor Hiroms, the man accused of robbing Nancy Howard, in the 5300 block of Standridge Drive. He told the officer he was on his way to pick up some money from his uncle who lived on Bluebonnet Way. He finally told police John was not his uncle, but an investor, according to arrest affidavits.

Through investigations, police linked Hiroms to the shooting and he was later charged with aggravated robbery.

Hiroms is in Denton County Jail on a bench warrant to serve as a witness in Howard’s trial.

John Howard was expected to face trial in March, but 362nd District Court Judge Bruce McFarling granted a 90-day continuance after John B. Minor, a communications consultant for the defense, requested additional time to review digital forensic evidence that will be introduced into the trial.

Defense attorney Jerry Cobb said in an interview Friday that the defense has now had time to review all 104 discs given to them by the state, and he expects a hearing Monday morning before jury selection on some of the obtained phone records.

“If the records are ruled inadmissible, it will not affect our ability to move forward,” Cobb said.

“It will be up to the state if they want to move forward.”

Cobb said he has been involved in the case since early on and it’s been a time-consuming project.

“We are looking forward to our day in court,” he said.

Beck said the state has 70 witnesses to call before the jury and the trial is expected to last about three weeks.

“It has been almost two years to the date of Nancy Howard’s shooting,” she said. “We look forward to getting a jury seated.”

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