Benjamin R. Howard, 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday 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 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 at a home at 3803 E. Frederick Ave., where several adults and children lived. 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.
Howard, who has a previous felony-assault conviction in Idaho, fled the scene and later was arrested.
Margerie Brown, who had two sons with Jordan, told Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno that Jordan’s death 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 father. She said they release balloons “to heaven with hugs and notes” to Jordan.
But their youngest son failed to recognize Jordan when she recently showed him a photo, she said. “His little-boy mind can’t remember his daddy’s face,” she said.
Other members of Jordan’s family said that while they thought the sentence was short, they’ve forgiven Howard for the killing. And several of Howard’s family members offered condolences to Brown and to Jordan’s family.
Howard apologized Wednesday for the killing.
“I know I can never replace what I have taken from them,” he said.
Moreno asked Howard why he stabbed Jordan.
“I don’t know. I made bad choices,” he said.
The judge said he should feel blessed that Jordan’s family members offered forgiveness.
“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.”