He had drugs, he stole a woman’s car by pretending he wanted to buy it, and he had more than one warrant out for his arrest, but it was the way Johnny Lee Howard ran from the cops that ultimately put him in prison.
Howard, 35, was sentenced to 120 days in prison for resisting arrest, a class E felony. Circuit Judge Jennifer Growcock handed down the sentence June 13, as part of a plea agreement public defender Steven Kellogg struck with Christian County prosecutors.
“I’m ready to go to prison,” Howard told the judge, appearing for his hearing by video teleconference from the Christian County Jail.
During the plea hearing, Christian County First Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Tuohy described an arrest report prepared by Ozark Police Officer Stephen Conner, who arrested Howard on outstanding warrants, “noticed (Howard) was sweating and twitching, and during a search of the vehicle the defendant was driving, located what he believed to be methamphetamine and a glass pipe in the center console.”
An analysis at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab reportedly determined that the material Officer Conner took from Howard’s vehicle was methamphetamine.
On May 23, 2018, Howard allegedly stole a vehicle from an Ozark woman. He posed as a potential would-be buyer in a sale-by-owner used car deal gone awry.
“He asked for the keys to see if this vehicle ran, and then drove away without permission and without paying for it,” Tuohy said.
On May 12, 2019, Howard committed the felony crime of resisting arrest that led to his 120-day shock incarceration sentence. The prosecutor alleges Howard fled in such as a way that he caused substantial risk of injury or death to other persons.
A Christian County sheriff’s deputy responded to a call about a suspicious person, and reportedly noted that the person’s description matched that of Howard, who had warrants out for his arrest in Christian County.
“The defendant sped away, driving erratically at high speeds in a residential area before hitting an embankment and becoming disabled. (The deputy) then observed the defendant exit the vehicle and run on foot before eventually being contained,” Tuohy said.
Howard also pleaded guilty to felony possession of controlled substance and first degree tampering with a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to five years on each of those two convictions and received five years with suspended impositions of sentence on both crimes.
Online court records show Howard also has an outstanding charge out of Dallas County for a third offense of operating a vehicle without a valid license. He also has an operating without a valid license and a first degree tampering with a motor vehicle charge pending against him in Greene County.
At the hearing June 13 in Ozark, Howard told the judge that he asked to see a mental health professional at the time he was booked in the Christian County Jail in Ozark, but that it hadn’t happened. He told the judge that he felt he was of sound mind to proceed with entering his guilty pleas and receiving his 120-day prison sentence.