Howard sentenced to life without parole for murder, criminal conspiracy

Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Leron Howard

A Jamestown man will serve life in prison without parole in the April 30, 2011, death of Abdi Ali Ahmed, 18, Jamestown.

Leron Howard, 35, Jamestown, received the life sentence from Judge Thomas Merrick today. A jury found Howard guilty of murder and criminal conspiracy on Aug. 24.

Ahmed’s body was found in a road ditch near Spiritwood. An autopsy indicated he died of blunt force trauma to the head but had also been stabbed.

Janelle Cave, 22, Jamestown, was convicted of manslaughter and criminal conspiracy in February in the same case. She is serving an 11-year prison sentence.

Ahmed had met Howard and Cave at a Jamestown bar the night he was killed and returned to Cave’s home with them. Howard struck Ahmed in an altercation and he and Cave drove him out into the country. Ahmed was stabbed at that location although testimony differed on whether Cave or Howard stabbed the victim.

The sentence matched the recommendation of Fritz Fremgen, Stutsman County state’s attorney, who prosecuted the case. Steve Mottinger, court-appointed defense attorney, had suggested 20 years of incarceration.

Merrick said Howard’s criminal history was a key factor in his decision. He said the pre-sentence investigation revealed Howard had 23 prior criminal convictions including five felonies.

Mottinger said Howard had directed him to file a notice of appeal in the case.

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