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Tue, Feb. 18

Attorneys look to suppress evidence

PRESCOTT – On Tuesday, Robert Howell's lawyers requested an evidentiary hearing during which they hope to argue two motions to suppress evidence that police seized during a March 5 drug raid at their client's home.

During a pretrial conference, Howell's attorney, Anthony Shaw, asked Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Janis Sterling to set an oral argument for their motion to compel, which relates to obtaining various Prescott Area Narcotics Task Force (PANT) documents.

He said they have to have this hearing as soon as possible because they may use that information during a day-long evidentiary hearing, which he asked Sterling to set 60 days from Tuesday's conference.

Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Steve Young objected to a hearing on the motion to compel because Sterling previously denied it. He also said he doesn't believe that they will need all day to argue the two motions to suppress.

Shaw said the defense has an affidavit from their expert, who needs PANT documents in order to decide whether police practices were reasonable.

Sterling said she would schedule a hearing on the motion to compel in the next two weeks. The evidentiary hearing will be either in late February or early March, she said.

At that time, the defense hopes to argue that the court must suppress all evidence seized in the initial and subsequent executions of the search warrants because of a lack of probable cause and a "knock and announce" violation, motions state.

In March, police arrested Robert Howell, 50, on multiple felony charges in connection with the March 5 incident, when he allegedly fired a round at the PANT officers.

The officers went to Howell's home looking for his 19-year-old son, Brian, whom they believed was dealing drugs in the 500 block of Dameron Street.

As the officers broke open the door at around 6:30 a.m., Howell allegedly fired a shot at them.

Brian was not at home at the time of the drug raid. Police charged Howell with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated assault and one count of unlawful discharge of a firearm within the city limits.

Two weeks later, he was out of jail on his own recognizance. The defendant said previously that he never heard nor saw officers until after he fired the shot. In April, on the state's request, Sterling dismissed with prejudice the four counts of attempted first-degree murder.

The state offered Howell a plea deal on five remaining felony charges, but he turned it down. The plea offer was to dismiss all four counts of aggravated assault against him if he agreed to plead guilty to a Class 6 felony of unlawful discharge of a firearm within the city limits.

Then, five months after the incident, the state sought a grand jury indictment on four counts of endangerment, bringing back the total number of felony charges to nine.

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