Monday, July 15, 2024

'Remorseless killer': Howard gets life sentence for wife’s murder

Staff Writer | May 24, 2024 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — A former Idaho State Police trooper will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering his wife.

Daniel C. Howard, 58, was convicted in March of second-degree murder and domestic battery. Prosecutors said he killed his wife, Kendy Howard, via asphyxiation in February 2021 and then staged the scene to make it appear as though she died by suicide.

First District Judge Lamont Berecz sentenced Daniel Howard on Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder. Daniel Howard also received a 10-year sentence for domestic battery, which will run concurrently with his life sentence.

“It’s clear to me that you’re a remorseless killer, and I don’t say that lightly,” Berecz told Howard before handing down the sentence.

Daniel Howard entered the courtroom under his own power Thursday, wearing a red and white striped jumpsuit. Court records indicate that Howard was unable to walk and used a wheelchair to enter a recent hearing, weakened from losing at least 50 pounds while on a hunger strike in jail.

Kendy Howard’s loved ones filled the courtroom, as did some supporters of Daniel Howard.

“You’ll never understand the damage you have caused to all of us,” Brooke Wilkins, Kendy Howard’s daughter, told the man who raised her from infancy as a stepfather. “You are not the victim. You deserve to be here today. You deserve to never again live a free life.”

Wilkins described her family’s grief and the toll her mother’s murder has taken.

“She won’t see me get married,” she said. “She won’t see my daughter grow up. She didn’t see me finally get it together.”

Wilkins said Daniel Howard treated her and other relatives cruelly after he murdered Kendy Howard. He sold his wife’s belongings at a yard sale on her birthday, including the beloved collection of glass chickens that Kendy Howard had promised to her granddaughter. When Wilkins arrived, wanting to buy some of her mother’s things, Daniel Howard called the police and had her trespassed from her childhood home.

“It was one of the last things he could do without physically hurting me,” Wilkins said.

After the conviction, Wilkins said she gets a sense of peace from knowing her mother’s killer no longer controls her memory.

Prosecutors said Daniel Howard murdered his wife because she was planning to leave him for another man and he didn’t want to split $2 million in shared assets with her in a divorce.

Three days before she died, Kendy Howard reportedly woke in the middle of the night to her husband standing over her, dressed in black. She went to stay with her parents, afraid for her life.

But Daniel Howard lured her back home with promises that he loved her and wouldn’t harm her, prosecutors said.

Before she died, Kendy Howard sustained bruises all over her body, shallow cuts on her feet, a large second-degree burn and a broken jaw. Prosecuting attorney Art Verharen said her injuries painted a picture of a violent struggle with Daniel Howard.

“She fought for her life,” Verharen said.

Prosecutors said Daniel Howard killed his wife by putting her in a “carotid restraint” that cut off blood flow to her brain. The technique was reportedly taught as part of basic training when Daniel Howard went through Idaho POST training.

“She suffered for a while,” Verharen said. “That suffering came after the beating.”

After killing Kendy Howard, prosecutors said, her husband removed her clothes. He carried her body into the bathroom, placed her in the tub and filled it with water. He pulled her hair back with a clip, though some strands escaped, falling across her face. He set her phone and purse by the sink.

At some point, Daniel Howard put a gun in Kendy Howard’s mouth and pulled the trigger. The bullet’s downward trajectory later revealed that she could not have shot herself.

Verharen said Daniel Howard’s actions mirrored those of a decade ago, when he threatened to kill a man who allegedly had an affair with his wife. Howard was accused of stalking the man, stealing his mail, pouring syrup in his vehicles and firing a gun at his house.

At that time, Daniel Howard reportedly told investigators that the other man lived only because he allowed it and said he understood why some men kill their wives.

Before receiving his sentence, Daniel Howard professed his innocence to the court. He said he loves and misses his wife and still loves Kendy Howard’s family, including her daughter.

“I’m not that monster people have portrayed me to be,” he said.

He asked the judge to consider his military and law enforcement service, as well as his volunteer work in the community.

“I stand before you a shell of the man I used to be,” he said. “Hell, I don’t even have a shell left.”

Berecz said Daniel Howard committed a “heinous, outrageous murder” that justified a life sentence. When Daniel Howard killed Kendy Howard, Berecz said, he killed more than his wife. He also killed a loving mother, grandmother, sister, daughter and friend.

“You killed somebody who brought a lot of life and light to those around her,” he said. “You snuffed that out because of your own pride and greed.”

Based on his history, Daniel Howard shows little possibility of rehabilitation, Berecz said. He said society must be protected from Daniel Howard and that Kendy Howard’s family deserves the closure of a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

“You are not beyond redemption, but in this case, it will have to happen within the walls of a prison,” Berecz said.