Testimony to Begin in Murder Trial of Lake Elsinore Man

He's accused of tying up his wife and suffocating her with a garbage bag.

The 911 recording will play a key role in the case. (Photo: Patch Archive)
The 911 recording will play a key role in the case. (Photo: Patch Archive)

Testimony is scheduled to get underway today in the murder trial of a man accused of tying up and suffocating his wife in their Lake Elsinore home.

Ted Preston Howard, 60, could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted in the 2012 killing of 66-year-old Jeannette Howard.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz is expected to seat a jury this morning, after which the prosecution and defense will make opening statements.

Sheriff's investigators allege that on June 17, 2012, the defendant subdued his wife, bound her hands and ankles, then wrapped a garbage bag tightly around her neck, asphyxiating her.

Howard telephoned 911 around 4:50 p.m., telling a dispatcher -- before she could even ask the nature of  his emergency -- that he had killed his wife, according to the prosecution.

In the ensuing 18-minute conversation between the defendant and 911 operator, he was repeatedly asked what had happened in the home, to which he continually answered, in a flat voice, "I don't know" and "Send the police," according to court papers.

"Can you tell me what happened to her until the deputies get there?" the operator asks at one point.

"She's dead," Howard replies.

When deputies arrived at the single-story residence, located at 32560 Payne St., they discovered Jeanette Howard's body on a hallway floor.

Sheriff's Investigator Gary Bowen testified in a 2013 preliminary hearing that the house was "filthy" and cluttered, with cats crawling all over the place.

Jeannette Howard apparently took in felines whenever she found them.

According to Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky, the defendant never made any admissions or gave any clues as to what might have precipitated the killing.

Howard is being held without bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

--City News Service

Rachel Jackling June 26, 2014 at 01:07 PM


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