Judge orders 200 jurors summoned in infant death case

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Due to the significant amount of publicity concerning the death of Ashley Howard’s two-year old son, 200 jurors will be called for the trial.

On Wednesday Sept. 5 Ashley Maria Howard was arraigned before Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Elizabeth Best.

Howard is charged with one count of negligent homicide in connection with the death of her two-year old son on June 28, 2018.

Judge Best read Howard the Miranda rights and advised Howard of the maximum sentence should she be convicted: 20 years in state prison or a fine of $50,000, or both. Howard entered a plea of “Not Guilty.”

Moving to the scheduling hearing, Judge Best asked for an approximation of the trial’s duration. “I do not think the trial will take more than a week,” Thornton said. Dawson County Attorney Brett Irigoin agreed.

Thornton said the defense needs time to request and complete a mental health evaluation for Howard. The deadline for the defense’s mental health report will be 150 days before the trial date to allow the State time to respond.

The deadline for submitting pretrial motions will be 60 days before the trial date.

The deadline for a changeof-venue motion will be 60 days from Sept. 5, 2018.

When asked if she would seek a change of venue Thornton replied “I haven’t decided yet.”

The trial date is set to begin on May 6, 2019.

Judge Best asked for an approximate number of jurors to be called. Best said usually in cases such as this, 45 jurors are called.

Thornton said “There has been significant publicity concerning this case,” and asked that the number of jurors be increased.

Irigoin noted that the courtroom could hold 100 jurors maximum. Thornton suggested increasing the number even more.

Judge Best decided that 200 jurors will be called and initial screenings will be held at the EPEC.

An omnibus hearing will be scheduled for sometime in November, the exact date and time to be determined.

Reach Joe Drivdahl at rrnews@rangerreview.com.