Heather Ann Howell

Heather Ann Howell

Photo: Heather Ann Howell (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Crimes: Murder, Vehicular Manslaughter, DUI

Heather Ann Howell of Santa Rosa, California, killed Jesse Garcia on July 14, 2012. She didn’t set out to kill Jesse Garcia — she’d never even met the man — but what she did that fatal day almost certainly meant somebody would die. What she did was to become fairly intoxicated, downright furious and exceedingly stupid.

Heather Ann Howell started the day off going to the hospital with her boyfriend, Tony Kraus, to visit her ailing mother. The couple later went to a bar called The Zoo and then headed to Heather Howell’s home on Hartman Lane in Santa Rosa.

I guess Heather Howell had felt the need to release some tension that day — visiting her mother was exhausting, apparently. Heather Howell chose to indulge in some marijuana, some cocaine and a whole lotta booze. She indulged herself enough so that her blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit to drive.

Now Heather Howell knows all about driving under the influence. In 2006 she was convicted of drunken driving. The judge told her then that if she killed someone while driving drunk she could be charged with murder. She had to attend a first-offender DUI course. You’d think that that would have sobered her up. Nope.

I’m guessing the alcohol and drugs didn’t mellow Heather Ann Howell at all that day. At her home, instead of getting some relaxation, the woman got into a full-scale argument with Tony Kraus over his seeing an ex-girlfriend.

Tony Kraus decided to leave the volatile situation. He obviously didn’t want to listen to what his inebriated girlfriend had to say about his alleged infidelity. And so the man hopped onto his Harley-Davidson and scrammed.

I think it is possible that Tony Kraus had been drinking and doing drugs along with Heather Howell, but that’s just a guess. I am also guessing his ability to think clearly at that time was somewhat impaired. All he really knew was he wanted to get away from his furious girlfriend as quickly as possible.

You’d think that Heather Howell would have clued in that her boyfriend didn’t want a confrontation with her when he rode off. But damn it, she was going to make him listen! And so the intoxicated bitch jumped into her black 2001 Acura — she didn’t even take time to put on her shoes! She followed Tony Kraus to Fulton Road. He turned south, so she turned south.

Tony Kraus became very aware of Heather Howell chasing him. He began to fear that the raging hellbitch was aiming to kill him, and so he did the stupidest thing — he sped up.

Not surprisingly, Heather Howell was so furious and so determined to catch him that she sped up too. She pursued him relentlessly and recklessly. Tony Kraus tried to shake her off by weaving in and out of traffic. Still she followed.  They ran through red lights. They ran through stop signs. They drove in the opposite lane and the shoulder. They sped past other cars.

Tony Kraus didn’t stop or slow down because he was sure Heather Howell would kill him. Heather Howell didn’t stop or slow down because she was fixated on that motorcycle. Maybe she did intend to kill him. She certainly didn’t give a flying rat’s ass about anyone or anything else at that time.

Unbelievably, Heather Howell was having the time of her life! It was exhilarating! Witnesses saw her shaking her fist at the motorcyclist and yelling, “Yee-haw!”

Other witnesses saw her put her hand out the window and pointing it like a gun at her fleeing boyfriend.

The insane pursuit continued for several miles. Tony Kraus turned off of Hall Road into a small residential development, but still Heather Howell followed. He got back onto Hall Road, heading west, with the insane hellbitch following at insane speeds — up to 76 miles per hour.

Hall Road was not devoid of traffic, and so it was inevitable that vehicles going the speed limit would get in the way of the dangerous chase. Sure enough, a red Lexus driven by an 89-year-old man got in the way.

Tony Kraus steered his motorcycle to the left of the Lexus and Heather Howell drove to the right. The intoxicated bitch sideswiped the Lexus and careened toward the shoulder of the road. She did not stop then. She was out of control, out of her mind with the booze, the drugs and her rage.

Jesse Garcie

Jesse Garcia

Heather Howell swerved back onto the road. That’s when she hit Jesse Garcia’s 1969 Triumph Spitfire convertible from behind. She hit it so hard that the Triumph emblem was literally stamped onto her front fender.

Tragically, Jesse Garcia’s Triumph overturned because of the impact, and caught fire. Jesse Garcia was trapped beneath his burning car, screaming. He was only 56 years old. RIP Jesse Garcia.

Heather Ann Howell did not flee the scene. She waited along with Tony Kraus and witnesses for the authorities.

When help arrived, the hellbitch was evaluated for injuries in an ambulance. She was fine, but her blood alcohol level was 0.11 percent — the legal limit is 0.08 percent.

Heather Howell in ambulance

Photo: Heather Ann Howell (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Heather Howell got busy while waiting in the ambulance — she phoned Tony Kraus. She ignored the smouldering wreckage and instead looked at her boyfriend through the ambulance window as she told him, “Keep your story straight.”

The attending paramedics overheard the hellbitch say, “What did you tell them already?” and “What is your story?” She asked him not to say anything because “my uncle is an attorney.”

The paramedics also heard her say on the phone, “I’m so screwed. I’m going to jail,” and plenty more words to that effect.

She was so screwed? How about sparing a thought for her victim?!?!

Accident sceneTony Kraus was not charged. Heather Howell was.  She gave a statement to police that was completely devoid of emotion or remorse. Her demeanor was cold and inappropriate in the circumstances. That didn’t help her cause.

The road raging, drunk driving Heather Howell first went to trial in August 2013. The defense decided to blame the victim. The poor man had a previous DUI! Yup, that’s right, the defense claimed the Jesse Garcia was drunk and had already lost control of his vehicle BEFORE Heather Howell’s car came along and hit it.

To be clear, Jesse Garcia’s blood alcohol level was 0.05 per cent — below the legal limit. He was not to blame for what happened to him!

The defense also suggested that the victim’s car was to blame. There was a recall in effect for the gas caps of Triumphs so, according to the defense, gas must have been leaking from the victim’s car! That would mean that the car might have been on fire before the crash!

In September 2013 the jury convicted Heather Howell of the vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving charges, but deadlocked on 2nd-degree murder. Damn! She faced 10 years in prison.

The prosecutors were not satisfied. They were determined to retry Heather Howell on the murder charge, where she would face 15 years to life in prison.

The defense wasn’t satisfied either. A new defense attorney wanted a whole new trial on all the charges, claiming the first lawyer had failed to impeach prosecution witnesses, allowed evidence that should have been inadmissible (the overheard phone conversation with Tony Kraus in the ambulance), and didn’t bring up a heat-of-passion defense.

Heather Howell

Photo: Heather Howell (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ PD FILE, 2013)

The defense did not get their way. In September 2014, Heather Ann Howell went to trial in Sonoma County Superior Court on the murder charge.

The defense attorney Kristine Burk asked the jury to consider involuntary manslaughter. She admitted her client’s behaviour was “reckless, thoughtless, tragic and even criminal” but not murder. She pointed out that her client hadn’t fled the scene but had stayed put — never mind that the police would have tracked her down anyway through her license plate or Tony Kraus.

Deputy District Attorney Anne Masterson told the jury that Heather Howell had acted with conscious disregard for human life. “She knew the risks but she just didn’t care,” she said.

On September 26, 2014, the jury deliberated for about 4 1/2 hours and found the road rager guilty of 2nd-degree murder.

“Her tears (during the trial) were for being on trial and not for Jesse Garcia. My impression was she was feeling sorry for herself,” one juror said.

Another juror said of the defendant’s interview with investigators, “She didn’t show any emotion or remorse. There was not one iota of a tear especially when she was told she took a man’s life.”

Seems like Heather Ann Howell is her own worst enemy. She cried a whole lot when the verdict was read, but not at all when Jesse Garcia burned to death.

Heather Ann Howell

Photo: Heather Howell (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/ PD FILE, 2013)

Sentencing is scheduled for November 19, 2014. Heather Howell, now 30, is facing 15 years to life. I shall endeavour to keep readers informed — reminders are welcome!

I extend my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jesse Garcia. Hearing the defense blame him for his own death must have added an extra layer of hell onto their grief. May they find consolation that his killer has been found guilty.

And for Heather Ann Howell, long may she consider how she, and she alone, is responsible for her incarceration. She killed a man for no reason except she was mad at her boyfriend. She’s a pathetic individual who is not deserving of any sympathy for her plight.

PressDemocrat.com news article – arrest
PressDemocrat.com news article – charges
PressDemocrat.com news article – guilty verdict manslaughter
PressDemocrat.com news article – victim to blame
PressDemocrat.com news article – new trial
PressDemocrat.com news article – closing arguments
CBS San Francisco News article – guilty verdict
KTVU News article – murder conviction

9 Responses to Heather Ann Howell

  1. moodymagic says:

    What a terrible heartless person. I personally hope for life in prison. I to send a sympathy to the Garcia family.

  2. 2cute says:

    Wow the sheer gall! She could’ve killed the old man in the lexus, she could’ve caused a pileup, she could’ve hit a pedestrian but she just didn’t care! Because the whole world is about her I guess. She was mad so she was entitled to break all kinds of laws and try to kill her boyfriend too. What a horrible horrible death poor Jesse Garcia suffered all because the bitch was drunk, high and mad. And stupid. Can’t forget stupid.

  3. bulldoggy says:

    As bad as she is, and she’s really bad, I think the boyfriend should have been brought to trial too. He blew through stop signs and red lights, he wove through traffic, on the wrong side of the road and on the shoulder. His speeds were way beyond what was allowed. His behaviour was as much a threat to other drivers’ safety as hers was. He should have pulled over and called 911 if he thought his life was being threatened. Was he at least tested for his blood alcohol level? Doesn’t sound like it.

    • FlyingLeadChange says:

      You would have stopped with that psycho in hot pursuit?

      You’re far braver than I, Bulldoggy.

      Still, yeah, he should be held accountable somehow. I think the prosecutors cut him a deal in exchange for his testimony.

      • bulldoggy says:

        I think he should’ve pulled over right at the beginning instead of speeding up. Or he could’ve headed for a police station or fire station, somewhere public where he could’ve called for help.

      • Angry Dad says:

        I agree with Bulldoggy. You can just go to any public place (e.g. CVS, grocery store, etc.) and go inside and ask someone to call a cop. It’s only one girl without any weapon. What kind of a man are you? He should have been charge too.

        FlyingLeadch – If you or someone you knew was hit by her boyfriend’s reckelss driving because he was too much of a wimp to stand up to his crazy girlfriend, would you be so easy to defend him?

        Nough said

    • Hopeless Pedantic says:

      While unsafe speeds are certainly dangerous and reckless, it is established advice to evade pursuers down wrong way streets, red lights if safe, etc. in extreme cases to determine if you’re being stalked or a person following you is just coincidentally going your way.

      It’s not advice I wish anyone had to follow and it might have been from an outdated police seminar on self protection for women, but just sayin’ it’s not too outlandish.

  4. 2cute says:

    Bengalpuss, wherefore art thou? We miss you!

  5. Susty says:

    Sentencing appears to have been delayed for one reason or another, however 15 – life was indeed the outcome.

    http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/DA/Press-Releases/2014/Heather-Howell-Sentenced-to-Life-in-Prison/

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