Lafayette,La(KADN)- Ian Howard, the man accused of killing Lafayette Police Corporal Michael Middlebrook in 2017 has been ruled competent to stand trial. This is the third hearing after being rescheduled twice. Judge Valerie Garrett has set the court date for March 1, 2024, and it's scheduled to take five to six weeks.
The Middlebrook family says they are now relieved that the case is finally moving forward.
In 2017 Howard pleaded not guilty because of insanity in the shooting death of Corporal Michael Middlebrook outside a North Lafayette convenience store that also wounded three others.
Howard was originally declared not competent to stand trial, but that declaration has now been reversed. Medical experts testified Howard is competent to stand trial as long as he continues to take his medication.
Judge Garrett also set motion hearing dates for both sides in July, November, and February of next year ahead of the trial. During the July motion hearing, it will also be determined where the trial will take place.
Judge Garrett explained her reasoning for this lengthy court process, saying it's important Howard be able to assist in his own defense throughout the entire trial.
She also ruled Howard will remain at the east feliciana mental hospital near baton rouge throughout the entire trial to ensure he receives his medication.
If he is convicted of killing Lafayette Police Cpl. Michael Middlebrook, prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Howard.