Howard Sentenced to Life in Murder-for-Hire Conviction

A Denton County jury unanimously sentenced John “Frank” Howard of Ponder to life in prison on Thursday.

The decision comes just two days after the same group of 12 convicted him of attempted capital murder for the part he played in the 2012 shooting of his now ex-wife, Nancy.

Prosecutors said Howard paid several people, between 2009-2012, to kill Nancy after he began having an affair with another woman and leading a double-life in California. 

Nancy Howard was shot in the driveway of the couple’s Carrollton home on August 18, 2012; suffering the loss of one eye, brain damage and several other long-term effects which she described to the jury during the nearly three week trial.

During closing arguments for the sentencing process Thursday morning, Denton County Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck encouraged the jury to pursue the maximum sentence of life.

"He plotted, day after day, week after week, month after month as he lived in the same home with Nancy Howard, all the while conspiring, planning his wife's execution," said Beck.

The defense urged jurors to explore other options for their client including probation or a lesser prison sentence.

"He's 50 something years old, there's not going to be rehabilitation in prison for him," said defense attorney Jerry Cobb, adding that Howard had never had any prior convictions and had cooperated from day one of the investigation.

Howard’s three adult kids took the stand Wednesday and told jurors their father was a good man who they hoped one day their future kids would have the chance to meet; standing by their testimony that they believed he was not guilty.

After the sentence Thursday, Nancy took the stand one last time and spoke directly to John. She told him that she had loved him dearly only to have him attempt to take everything from her and rip their family apart.

At one point she even referred to him as “John” saying they were no longer on a first name basis as she didn’t know him anymore.

After he was led away, she told NBC 5 she was glad to be able to move on.

"Justice was served,” said Nancy. “I'm grateful that God chose life for me and I plan to see what He has planned for me."

"He's exactly where he needs to be,” said Beck. "We're very thrilled with the verdict we received. Especially it was very comforting to Nancy Howard."

Defense attorney Ricky Perritt said they plan to appeal the decision, but that they were prepared for the sentence.

"A very conservative county with conservative residents and certainly the sentence was not to be unexpected,” said Perritt.

Howard will have the opportunity at parole after serving 30 years.

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