Prosecutor Links Two Killings By Sons at Trial
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ Seeing news reports about two neo-Nazi brothers accused of slaughtering their family was ``liberating″ for Jeffrey Howorth, a prosecutor said Monday as Howorth went on trial in the murder of his parents.
The reports were irrelevant, Howorth’s lawyer retorted: What drove the church-going Boy Scout to kill his own parents was mental illness, and he should be acquitted by reason of insanity.
For months, prosecutors have refused to publicly link the cases of Howorth, 17, and the Freeman brothers, Bryan and David, who lived 10 miles apart in the suburbs of Allentown.
That changed as prosecutor Doug Reichley outlined his case before a jury in Common Pleas Court.
On Feb. 27, police say, the Freeman brothers killed their parents and 11-year-old brother in a bloody attack with knives and weightlifting bars.
Seeing reports about those murders ``was a liberating act for Jeffrey Howorth,″ Reichley said in his opening statement.
Three days later, the slightly-built varsity swimmer erupted, Reichley said, firing 14 rifle rounds into George and Susan Howorth before fleeing in his mother’s car.
Defense lawyer Dennis Charles said his client was nothing like the brothers; beer-guzzling, avowed neo-Nazis who went to white power meetings and tattooed their foreheads with hate rhetoric.
Howorth, he said, was ``a quiet and obedient boy″ who _ unknown to anyone _ suffered from a manic-depressive illness.
``Jeffrey Howorth held the .22-caliber rifle that killed his parents,″ Charles said. ``But insanity pulled the trigger.″
Howorth is being tried as an adult and faces an automatic life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder. Prosecutors elected not to seek the death penalty.
Before the jury was called in, Charles fought unsuccessfully to block any reference to the Freemans in opening statements. David, 16, and Bryan, 17, face trial in January,
Reichley asked Judge William Ford’s permission to raise the Freeman case in his opening statement, reading from a note left behind by Jeffrey Howorth after his parents were shot.
The rambling message read in part: ``Those kids from Salisbury (Township) were cool, they killed their parents. I would be rough if I did that.″
Ford allowed the note to be entered into evidence.
Reichley told the jury that the shooting and Howorth’s flight to Missouri in his mother’s car were calculated acts.
``This was not madness, it was murder,″ he said.
He said Howorth, when he was taken into custody two days after the shootings by a Missouri Highway Patrol officer, told the officer he ``was having some problems.″
The officer suggested things might get better once he got home and talked to his parents, Reichley said.
``Well I guess you didn’t hear,″ Reichley said Howorth replied. ``I killed my parents. I guess I shouldn’t have. But I did.″