Goodyear man gets prison term in grandma's killing
Helen Lee (Goodyear Police Department)
Jason Howell (Source: Chandler Police Department)
GOODYEAR, AZ (CBS5/AP) -
A Goodyear man who pleaded guilty to killing his grandmother last year by beating her with a shovel and slitting her throat has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Jason Eric Howell, 40, also was sentenced on Tuesday to lifetime supervised probation, Maricopa County prosecutors said.
He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May and also pleaded guilty to child abuse and aggravated assault charges in another case.
Prosecutors said Howell killed 78-year-old Helen Lee, of Goodyear, and left her body in the desert near Gila Bend. She was reported missing on Oct. 30 and her body was found the following day in an area where Howell had led detectives to find additional evidence. She was identified by the Medical Examiner's Office based on dental records.
Prosecutors said Howell beat his grandmother with a shovel before slitting her throat. He was facing first-degree murder.
Howell was picked up as a person of interest but that changed Nov. 2 when he became the primary suspect and he was officially charged on Nov. 5 with Lee's murder and indicted Nov. 13.
Howell had lived at his grandmother's home in a gated community for the past three years. Police said there was visible damage to the garage and found evidence inside that indicated possible foul play.
Police said Lee might have been killed after investigators found indications of foul play at her home and evidence in the desert about 50 miles away.
In another incident, Howell climbed in a vehicle in a parking lot at Kyrene Del Cielo around 4:45 p.m. on Oct. 30. A 12-year-old girl who was inside the SUV was able to jump out as Howell began to drive away, said Chandler Police Detective Seth Tyler.
A Chandler police officer spotted the stolen vehicle traveling westbound on Ray Road and tried to get him to pull over around 54th Street.
Howell initially pulled into a parking lot but then rammed the police car and drove away, Tyler said. The officer chased him over Interstate 10 and into Phoenix to 50th Street, where Howell drove into a park, Tyler said. Howell rammed the police car a second time in the park before he was finally taken into custody.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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