If an individual stands accused of purposefully killing seven people of a different race, is it safe to assume that “hate” had something to do with his actions?
No, not if the accused killer is black and the seven victims are white. In cases like these, “hate” is a word never uttered in a newsroom, let alone printed in the daily rag. In such cases, the media prefer that the story be buried and the name of the accused be mentioned as seldom as possible.
Brandon Howell? Ring a bell? Probably not. In fairness to Howell, he was acquitted of the 1998 murder of two white teens from Shawnee, one a girl whose body has never been found, one a boy whose body was found in the backyard of a home Howell’s father was working on. Howell was the last person to be seen with the pair.
Before prosecutors had enough evidence to try Howell on the 1998 murders, he was convicted in 1999 of kidnapping, aggravated assault, attempted aggravated robbery and animal cruelty during a home invasion in Gardner, Kansas. Howell was still just 19.
Paroled in 2011, Howell surfaced again in 2014. This time, he was accused of killing five white senior citizens, three of them in their eighties, two of whom he reportedly beat to death and the other three of whom he shot to death when they objected to his attempted theft of their neighbor’s car in south Kansas City. Howell’s weapon of choice was a shotgun, which denied the media the opportunity to rail against “assault” weapons.
In the four years since then, the media have allowed Howell to sink into anonymity. The Kansas City Star has not mentioned him in two years.
Credit here goes to KSHB for updating the public on Howell’s fate. Incredibly, he has not yet gone to trial for the 2014 murders. In 2015, the State of Missouri announced it would seek the death penalty for Howell, and the court set a trial date for 2017. In 2016, the defense asked that the trial be pushed back to 2018.
Apparently, Howell’s lead counsel is a public defender who specializes in death penalty cases. His unit being overburdened, he asked for another year to assure that Howell’s constitutional rights are protected. The trial is now set for April 2019.
In the interim, Howell rots away in the Jackson County Jail. His future death row digs will likely be an upgrade.