Guilty verdict in first of several jury trials facing Centralia man

MARION COUNTY — The first in a string of jury trials set for a 29-year-old Centralia man facing seven separate and unrelated felony and four DUI cases in Marion County was held Wednesday, with a  jury returning a guilty verdict in just 10 minutes on one of the charges.

TJ Howard (Source: CPD)
TJ Howard
(Source: CPD)

TJ Howard appeared in court Wednesday with his attorney Eddie Veltman, who represents him on outstanding felony cases from 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, as well as on outstanding DUI cases from 2011, 2012, and two from 2013.

Bill Stiehl represents Howard on three outstanding felony cases charged so far this year.

With the first case tried Wednesday, the parties agreed to continue the other cases until an August 31 final pre-trial hearing in all cases and the jury trial setting vacated until September 19.

The trials started Wednesday with the 2012 case charging Howard with Class 3 felony aggravated battery in a public place and Class 4 felony criminal damage to property.

He was convicted on the Class 4 charge, while the Class 3 was dismissed. Sentencing is scheduled for September 6.

It was an alleged failure of a court ordered drug test last month in that case that put Howard back in the Marion County Jail with bail increased by $1 million.

He had been granted bail in all felony and DUI cases, having posted nearly $58,000 in cash bond just since September. His latest bail setting will require either $100,000 cash to be posted, or $2 million in unencumbered real estate.

He remains in custody of the Marion County Jail pending the outcome of sentencing and the remaining cases. If released on bond, he will be restricted to home confinement with electronic monitoring, and must abstain from drug and alcohol use with random testing.