Benjamin R. Howard, 24, pleaded guilty today to second-degree manslaughter in connection with the June 3, 2008, stabbing death of Kenneth P. Jordan. Howard received a sentence of about seven years in prison.
Howard originally had been charged with first-degree murder, but Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Eugene Cruz acknowledged problems with witness statements and a defense argument that Howard may have stabbed Jordan in self-defense.
“Based on a number of factors present, it is the state’s belief that … second-degree manslaughter would be fair,” Cruz said.
The incident began early in the morning of June 3 at a home at 3803 E. Frederick, in which several adults and children were living. Witnesses said Howard was being loud and disturbing sleeping children when Jordan confronted him and the two men stepped outside. They fought and Jordan was stabbed in the chest; he later died.
Howard, who has a previous felony assault conviction in Idaho, fled the scene and was later taken into custody.
Margerie Brown, who had two sons with Jordan, told Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno that Jordan’s death has turned her family’s life upside down.
“Our two sons no longer have their father to help raise them … or share their first home run,” she said, crying.
She uses family photos during holidays to remind the boys of their dead father. She also said they release balloons “to heaven with hugs and notes” to Jordan.
But their youngest son didn’t recognize Jordan when she recently showed the boy a photograph, she said. “His little boy mind can’t remember his daddy’s face,” she said.
Other family members said they don’t agree with the sentence, but that they’ve forgiven Howard. Several of Howard’s family members offered condolences to Brown and Jordan’s family.
Howard also apologized. “I know I can never replace what I have taken from them,” he said.
Judge Moreno pointed out that she has seen Howard before her in court. She asked him why he stabbed Jordan.
“I don’t know. I made bad choices,” he said.
Moreno told Howard that he should feel blessed that Jordan’s family forgives him.
“Nobody wins here,” Moreno said. “It doesn’t matter what sentence I impose because there is nothing I can do to fix it. Only you can make these changes.”
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