The latest chapter in a 2012 alleged murder-for-hire plot is playing out in a Denton County courtroom.
The trial for Michael Lee Lorence began Tuesday morning in the 362nd District Court with Judge Bruce McFarling presiding.
Prosecutors accuse Lorence of being the gunman who shot Nancy Howard on Aug. 18, 2012, outside of her Carrollton home.
During opening arguments Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck told jurors that Howard's husband, John Franklin Howard, attempted to hire several people over a three-year period to kill her, and eventually the job landed with Lorence.
The state believes Lorence and another man followed Nancy home from church that night, and Beck said after trying to take her purse, Lorence shot her in the face at point blank range, resulting in the loss of her eye and other lingering effects she's still dealing with today.
The prosecution also played the 911 call that Nancy made that night and examined several Carrollton first responders about their response to the shooting.
The defense argued, however, that not only is Lorence not guilty of the charges but also that he was never even at the house the night of the shooting.
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Defense attorney Sarah Roland told the jury that Lorence, a tattoo artist from California, had traveled to Texas with his girlfriend to visit others who have been connected to the plot. She said others used his rental car that night, but Lorence never went along and that the only thing now connecting him to the scene was the testimony of people who, she said, may have struck deals with the state.
On early cross-examination of witnesses, Roland pointed out that the 9-1-1 tape had Nancy identify the shooter as a young white man with dark hair, while she continually stated her client had a shaved head at the time.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks with Nancy Howard eventually taking the stand.
Her husband, John Franklin Howard, was convicted last year of attempted murder and sentenced to life in prison for his role. Our partners at the Denton Record Chronicle said Howard is scheduled to appeal his sentence next month at the Denton County Courthouse on the Square.