Jury Hears Closing Arguments in Trial of Former Mr. Football
Both the prosecution and defense have concluded their case in the trial of a former northeast Ohio high school football star accused of aggravated burglary and other crimes.
Fox 8 News reports that Erick Howard, a former North Canton Hoover standout running back, never testified on his own behalf and his defense team rested without calling a single witness in the case.
The bailiff for Stark County Common Pleas Judge Taryn L. Heath tells Fox 8 News that the jury is currently hearing closing arguments in the case and then will begin deliberations.
Howard has been charged with aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, rape and kidnapping related to an August 20, 2011 Sunford Avenue SE apartment robbery.
Prosecutors allege Howard was one of three men who took part in the home invasion and armed robbery.
Prosecutors say a couple was in their bedroom when two men wearing ski masks burst through their door. They were duct taped and threatened at gunpoint to give the thieves money.
North Canton Police Chief Stephan Wilder told Fox 8 News in October that Howard is believed to have been one of the two masked gunmen in the apartment.
The other, Seth Obermiller, 20, of North Canton, has already pled guilty to charges of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery and is serving a seven-year prison sentence.
Obermiller testified on behalf of Stark County prosecutors in the case. Under oath Obermiller told the jury that Howard was with him when the apartment was robbed.
A third man, Michael Taylor, 20, who drove the get-away vehicle, pled guilty to an attempted burglary charge and has been placed on probation.
Last week Howard rejected a plea deal from Stark County prosecutors, according to his attorney Rufus Sims.
Sims told Fox 8 News that a plea deal of 12-years in prison was offered by prosecutors at a final preliminary hearing.
As a running back at North Canton Hoover High School, Howard became only the second person to be twice named “Mr. Football” in the state. Howard was giving the Associated Press award in 2008 and 2009.