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Tue, Oct. 15

Body in freezer tops year in law and order

EARLY MORNING SHOOTING

In addition to that incident, local and federal drug and firearm raids were among the more prominent law enforcement activities during this calendar year.

A Prescott Area Narcotics Task Force (PANT) raid on March 5 at a local residence concluded with the arrest of 50-year-old Robert Howell of Prescott.

Armed with a search warrant, PANT went to Howell's home looking for his 19-year-old son, Brian, whom they believed was dealing drugs from the home in the 500 block of Dameron Street.

As officers broke open the door at around 6:30 a.m., Robert allegedly fired a shot at them. As a result, police charged him with multiple felonies including four counts of attempted homicide and four counts of aggravated assault.

Howell claimed he is innocent of all charges because he didn't know it was the police. In addition, he claimed that police violated his and his family's constitutional rights.

Shortly after his arrest, a judge granted Howell's release from jail on his own recognizance pending further investigation. Then, in April, the Yavapai County Attorney's Office agreed to drop four counts of attempted first-degree murder against Howell.

Four months later, though, after Howell refused to accept a plea agreement, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk sought a grand jury indictment on additional charges.

The plea offer was to dismiss all four counts of aggravated assault against Howell if he would plea guilty to a Class 6 felony of unlawful discharge of a firearm within the city limits.

Howell now faces four counts of endangerment in addition to other charges. At a January 2004 hearing, the defense team, Kenneth Ray and Tony Shaw, plan to ask a judge to set an evidentiary hearing related to two motions to suppress that they have filed, Shaw said.

"One states that they (police) didn't have proper probable cause to get the search warrant and the second one is that they didn't execute the search warrant fairly," he said.

TARGETING ANGELS

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on two occasions this year raided Hells Angels Motorcycle Club hangouts across Arizona and the West, which resulted in numerous arrests including four in the tri-city area.

Officials said the raids capped a two-year undercover investigation.

Federal agents arrested George Walters, 57, Theodore John Toth, 56, and Robert T. Reinstra, 42, in the 2600 block of North Yuma Drive in Chino Valley.

Tom Mangan, an ATF spokesman, said authorities believe that the Hells Angels members refer to that location as the Skull Valley Clubhouse. Walters, unlike other suspects, was a target in both crackdowns and his second arrest took place in Kingman.

They also arrested Rudy Jaime of Prescott Valley during the July raid. Federal agents have not made clear what specific charges these suspects face, but most of them relate to alleged drug and firearm trafficking, Mangan said previously.

The July raids allegedly yielded 560 illegal weapons, including silencers, pipe bombs, sawed-off shotguns and machine guns, along with ammunition, $50,000 in cash and drugs such as oxycodone, according to ATF.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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