Jury deliberations begin in trial of man accused of suffocating wife

RIVERSIDE – Jury deliberations got underway today in the trial of a Lake Elsinore man charged in the asphyxiation murder of his wife.

Ted Preston Howard, 60, could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of killing 66-year-old Jeannette Howard in 2012. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Testimony in the three-day trial concluded this morning, after which the prosecution and defense delivered closing statements. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz sent jurors behind closed doors to begin weighing evidence this afternoon.

A possible motive for Jeannette Howard’s death remains unclear, as her husband has never explained what transpired on the afternoon of June 17, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky on Monday played a recording of the 18-minute 911 call Ted Howard made to report his wife’s death. On the tape, the dispatcher repeatedly asks the defendant what happened to his wife, but only gets flat, abbreviated responses.

”Can you tell me what happened until the deputies get there?” the dispatcher asks.

”No,” Howard replies.

”How did it happen?” the dispatcher asks.

”She’s dead,” Howard answers.

”Did you kill her with a weapon?” the woman asks.

”No,” Howard says.

”Did you guys get into an argument?” the dispatcher asks.

”No,” Howard says.

”How long has she been dead?” the dispatcher asks.

”I’m not sure,” he replies.

”Was your wife sick?” the dispatcher asks.

”I think it’s just me,” Howard says.

Sheriff’s Investigator Gary Bowen said that when he arrived at the single-story house at 32560 Payne St., he saw the woman face-down in a hallway, her hands and feet bound with electrical cords and a trash bag tied around her head ”in a very tight knot.”

”She appeared to have been dead for a while,” Bowen said.

The detective recalled being overwhelmed by a ”malodorous feculence” from cat excrement all over the house.

”It was on every surface,” he said. ”It camouflaged the floor.”

According to pathologists, Jeannette Howard died from asphyxiation as a result of the trash bag being wrapped around her head.

If Howard is convicted, a sanity trial would be held, at the end of which the same jury will be asked to determine if he is mentally ill and capable of knowing right from wrong.

Howard was being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.



Trial begins for Lake Elsinore man accused of fatally strangling wife

RIVERSIDE – The body of a Lake Elsinore woman was lying face-down on a hallway floor, bound at the wrists and ankles, with a trash bag tied around her head when deputies found her, a detective testified today.

“She appeared to have been dead for a while,” said Riverside County

Sheriff’s Investigator Gary Bowen. “She had electrical cords tied around her wrists. There was another binding on her ankles, and there was a trash bag on

her head. It was tied around her neck in a very tight knot.”

Bowen recalled being overwhelmed by a “strong malodorous” smell from cat feces inside the single-story residence at 32560 Payne Street.

“It was on every surface of the house,” the detective said. “It camouflaged the floor.”

According to authorities, the victim, 66-year-old Jeannette Howard, apparently took in felines whenever and wherever she found them.

Her husband, 60-year-old Ted Preston Howard, could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the June 17, 2012 slaying of the woman. He has

pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky today played a recording of the 18-minute 911 call that the defendant made around 4:50 p.m. that day to report

his wife’s death.

On the tape, the dispatcher repeatedly asks Howard what happened to his wife, but only gets flat, abbreviated responses.

“Can you tell me what happened until the deputies get there?” the dispatcher asks.

“No,” Howard replies.

“How did it happen?” the dispatcher asks.

“She’s dead,” Howard answers.

“Did you kill her with a weapon?” the woman asks.

“No,” Howard says.

“Did you guys get into an argument?” the dispatcher asks.

“ No,” Howard says.

“How long has she been dead?” the dispatcher asks.

“I’m not sure,” he says.

“Was your wife sick?” the dispatcher asks.

“I think it’s just me,” Howard says.

According to pathologists, Jeannette Howard died from asphyxiation as a

result of the trash bag being wrapped around her head. The defendant has never

made any admissions or given any clues as to what might have precipitated the

killing.

If Howard is convicted, a sanity trial will be held, at the end of which

the same jury will be asked to determine whether he is mentally ill and capable of knowing right from wrong.

Closing statements are scheduled Wednesday.

Howard is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

2 Responses to "Jury deliberations begin in trial of man accused of suffocating wife"

  1. Ruth   July 2, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Maybe The cats and the SMELL drove him CRAZY!

    Maybe they were both sick~

    I pray she was Born Again

    Reply
  2. Kevin   November 9, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Wow… This is my uncle on my mom side, he was always a paranoid guy.. He was with Jeannette for over 40 years. It doesn’t make sense, he was in love with her and kissed the ground she walked on. Dang I’m lost for words!!

    Reply

Leave a Reply