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Conviction upheld for Bismarck 'career criminal' who was a fugitive for 11 months

Conviction upheld for Bismarck 'career criminal' who was a fugitive for 11 months

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The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a federal judge in North Dakota correctly sentenced a Bismarck man as a career criminal in July 2019 and was right to allow the evidence that led to the man’s firearms conviction.

Lonnie Howard, 49, was arrested in 2015 on a firearms charge. He left a halfway house while awaiting trial and was a fugitive for 11 months. He was stopped on Interstate 94 in Bismarck in 2018, struggled with a police officer and damaged a vehicle as he fled, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. He was later convicted for that incident in Burleigh County.

Howard argued that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, that certain evidence should not have been admitted and that his prior convictions did not meet the criteria to make him a career criminal.

The appeals panel said that there was ample evidence to show he occupied a bedroom where guns and ammunition were found. The lower court made no error in admitting a pawn ticket as evidence that Howard intentionally possessed a gun or in admitting police video that showed him escaping from an officer, the judges said.

Documents provided to the court showed Howard had previously been convicted of armed robbery, and his 2009 drug conspiracy conviction in North Dakota was a “serious drug offense” as defined under the Armed Career Criminal Act, the judges said.

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