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TJ Howard Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

September 8, 2016

A 29-year-old Centralia man earlier found guilty of the first of seven felony criminal charges pending against him has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Judge Allan Lolie handed down the sentence to TJ Howard following a sentencing hearing where State’s Attorney Matt Wilzbach provided evidence to prove up four of the other felony counts that Howard is still facing. The judge noted Howard was an unlikely candidate for prison based on just the one conviction for felony criminal damage to a Centralia squad car. However, he said that changed when testimony was presented on the other cases.

In addition to the prison time, Howard was fined $1,500. Wilzbach had asked for the two year prison term and wanted an $8,000 fine. Howard’s attorney Eddie Veltman had argued for a probationary term.

A Marion County Jury had found Howard guilty of the criminal damage charge after just six minutes of deliberation.

While Howard has six more felony and four additional felony traffic charges still pending, the felony conviction was his first. Howard is due back in court on Thursday for a final pretrial hearing on his next trial set for September 18th for a 2014 charge of reckless discharge of a firearm.

A witness in that case, Fernando Calcutt, testified at Tuesday’s sentencing hearing claiming Howard had fired a gun in Laura Leake Park. Three Centralia Police officers provided testimony on the other three cases involving unlawful possession of ammunition, aggravated fleeing and eluding police, and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Howard had posted more than $50,000 cash as the charges piled up, until Judge Mike McHaney set his bond at $1-million dollars after he tested positive for having THC, a chemical in marijuana in his blood system.

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