Anniston man convicted on felony rape, sodomy and attempted murder charges
by Cameron Steele
csteele@annistonstar.com
Aug 12, 2010 | 11399 views |  5 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Howard
Michael Howard
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Anniston resident Michael Howard spent the last three years in jail, but it took a jury only 10 minutes Thursday to convict him of felony rape, sodomy and attempted murder.

Howard, 41, chose to represent himself during the trial, which began Monday in Calhoun County Circuit Judge Brian Howell’s court room.

Howell said the four-day trial lasted eight hours each day. Jurors heard testimony from Howard and from the 67-year-old woman he was charged with raping, sodomizing and trying to murder on July 25, 2007.

Defense attorney Jayme Kirkland was appointed to act as standby counsel for Howard. She sat beside him and helped him when he had questions about various trial procedures, such as the phrasing of objections, questions for witnesses and closing statements.

According to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Weems, Howard and the victim were neighbors when Howard committed the crimes against her.

Howard had been living in a sex offender rehabilitation facility located down the road from the victim’s home, Weems said.

After Howard broke into the victim’s house, he spent the next several hours forcing her to have sex with him, Weems said. When he was finished, Howard tried to suffocate the woman, Weems said.

Howard has been convicted of rape once before, Howell told The Star after the trial.

Howell said the victim sat through the trial every day, even when the prosecution presented DNA evidence that showed Howard’s sperm had been found inside her and discussed the scratches she left on Howard’s face when she tried to fight back.

“She is and was a feisty woman,” Howell said. “Even he (Howard) said that she was a tough woman.”

Howell said the woman told the jury that even when he was attacking her, she never stopped fighting back.

After the jury handed down their verdict, Howard thanked them for hearing his case.

Howell said Howard’s defense was difficult to understand.

“He basically said, ‘I didn’t do it. But if I did, it was consensual,” Howell said.

The victim stood in the back of the courtroom and cried as she hugged the jurors before they left.

Howell set a sentencing hearing for Sept. 7. All three of the crimes Howard was convicted of are Class A felonies that bring sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison. Because Howard has a prior rape conviction, Howell said, the sentences are increased to a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

As the last juror left the court room, the victim wiped tears from her eyes and threw her arms around the juror’s neck.

“Thank you. God bless you,” she said.

Contact Star Staff Writer Cameron Steele at 256-235-3562.

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