Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Child sex trial postponed

By Cindy Schroeder cschroeder@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON - The trial for an Erlanger man facing more than 60 counts of child sexual abuse was pushed back two months after a newly appointed public defender for Larry Howell told the judge that he and his co-counsel needed more time to prepare their case.

        “It's a very complex case,” John Delaney, an assistant public advocate, told Kenton Circuit Judge Douglas Stephens on Monday. “It's a 64-count indictment involving 12 victims.”

        Judge Stephens granted the continuance, setting a new trial date of Oct. 29.

        Mr. Howell faces charges of sodomy, sex abuse, unlawful transaction with a minor, using a minor in a sexual performance and being a persistent felony offender. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

        The defense team for the man who was shot in the groin by an angry mother wants to move the trial to a different location.

        The prosecutor's office says it is ready to bring the case. Mr. Howell, appearing on a video monitor from a room in the Kenton County Jail, said in court Monday that he thinks the prosecutor wants to “rush” the case and “railroad” him, which the prosecutor's office denies.

        Mr. Delaney said he and co-counsel Mary Rafizadeh, both of Covington, were appointed to represent Mr. Howell, 41, after his original public defender, Mike Williams, was forced to withdraw from the case because of health problems.

        Ms. Rafizadeh entered the case July 22, and Mr. Delaney began representing Mr. Howell on Aug. 5, only 22 days before the scheduled trial date, he said.

        Mr. Howell's public defenders said they wanted to file a motion for a change of venue, saying Mr. Howell could not get a fair trial in Kenton County. They said they also need time to do the necessary research.

        Mr. Delaney said a delay in the trial date would give him time to review the original videotaped interviews of the alleged victims.

        Mr. Delaney argued that there appeared to be a problem when the tapes were copied. He said seven of the taped interviews he received from the prosecutor's office were inaudible or blank.

        Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett told the judge that he had re-copied the tapes and delivered them to Mr. Howell's original public defender, Mr. Williams, “sometime the first week of July.” He disputed the defense characterization of the case as complex, and said that he understood there were eight or nine alleged victims, not 12. He also said Mr. Howell's original public defender, Mr. Williams, had estimated the case could be tried in three to four days.


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