Sarasota murder suspect found guilty in retrial of 2015 case
SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A Sarasota man accused of a double murder in 2015 has been found guilty a second time after his original conviction was overturned, the Sarasota Police Department has announced.
Ronald Howard was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences Dec. 3, for the shooting deaths in 2015 of Carlos Suarez, Jr., 83, and Johnny Campbell, 65.
The shootings occurred in June 2015. Howard and Campbell were neighbors on 33rd Street who had had a dispute earlier in the day, police said.
Following the dispute, Howard made statements to witnesses that he wanted to apologize to the victims. Howard walked out of the residence, closed the front door, opened the door back up and told both victims “God bless you” and then closed the door. Witnesses told officers a short time later they saw Howard shoot the two men in the front yard of 1763 33rd Street.
Following the shooting, police responding found Howard sitting in the carport. A Smith & Wesson .38 revolver was observed lying in the yard between Howard and one of the victims. Officers also observed blood on Howard’s hands.
In his original trial, prosecutors used statements by Howard taken before he was given his Miranda warnings and told the jury Howard’s subsequent silence proved his guilt.
Howard’s attorney at the time did not object and, on appeal, a court agreed that the state improperly presented that evidence. “Although we think it a close call, our record indisputably demonstrates that Mr. Howard was prejudiced by his counsel’s failures here,” the appeals court decision said.
Howard won a new trial but on Dec. 3, he was again found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder with a firearm.
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