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Shooting victim takes the stand

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

Ex-wife of man on trial says she relied on faith in aftermath of attack

Faith and prayer are what got her through the Aug. 18, 2012, shooting that left her barely able to breathe, Nancy Howard told jurors Thursday during the trial of her former husband, John Franklin Howard.

He is accused of paying several thousand dollars to hire hit men over the course of three years to have his wife killed. John Howard faces a charge of attempt to commit capital murder and, if convicted, could face life in prison.

Nancy Howard testified Thursday in Judge Bruce McFarling’s 362nd District Court that the shooting occurred when she returned to her home in the 1500 block of Bluebonnet Way in Carrollton after attending a Saturday night service at her church.

As she walked toward the garage door leading into the house, a man’s arm went around her neck and a gun was pressed against her head, Nancy Howard said.

The man demanded her money and purse, she said.

“I turned around to face him,” Nancy Howard said before recalling that she shoved her purse into the man’s chest.

The last thing she remembers is saying, “Jesus, save me,” before she was shot above the left eye and blacked out, she said, thinking she was going to die.

“God spoke to me and said, ‘Get up, get up,’ and gave me the strength to get up,” she recalled.

She was able to drag herself to a bathroom in the home where she saw herself as “a bloody mess” before she got up, walked to the kitchen counter and dialed 911, Nancy Howard testified.

She was in Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas for two weeks and spent three to four days in the intensive care unit for treatment of wounds she suffered that night, Nancy Howard told jurors. The bullet damaged her left eye, ripped through her sinuses, the roof of her mouth and her throat, and lodged in a lung where doctors believe the bullet remains today, she said.

She recalled first learning her left eye was gone from her husband, according to courtroom testimony.

Nancy and John Howard, who she said is known by friends and family as “Frank,” met while going to church in San Marcos in the early 1980s, according to testimony, and after dating for 11 months, they married on May 21, 1983.

It was in the fall of 2009 when she first noticed a change in her husband’s character, Nancy Howard testified. From then on, their marriage was a constant struggle and she did everything she could to keep it together, she told jurors.

“Frank and I had a great marriage,” she said. “It wasn’t a perfect marriage, but we had a strong relationship.”

Their divorce was finalized last year.

Nancy Howard’s testimony is expected to continue today. During Thursday’s testimony, prosecutors showed video of a silver car that they alleged could prove that someone followed Nancy Howard to the church on the night of the shooting.

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