A man accused of killing five people earlier this year in the Woodbridge area of south Kansas City was arraigned Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Brandon Howell, 34, did not speak during the three-minute hearing. His attorney, Patrick Berrigan, told the court that Howell was pleading not guilty to all charges, including five counts of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors originally charged Howell with three counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 2 shotgun slayings of Susan Choucroun, 69, Lorene Hurst, 88, and her son Darrel Hurst, 63. At that time, prosecutors also charged Howell with assault for attacks on George and Anna Taylor.
Both Taylors died a week after being attacked. On Friday, a grand jury amended the two assault charges to two first-degree murder charges.
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Howell also faces charges of burglary, illegal possession of weapons, vehicle theft and four counts of armed criminal action.
In court Monday, Howell wore a blue V-neck sweater, black slacks, a white dress shirt and shackles around his ankles. Guards removed his handcuffs before the hearing began.
Relatives and neighbors of the Taylors watched the proceedings. They declined to comment afterward.
Howell continues to be held without bond. He is scheduled to be appear in court again Dec. 11.
According to court records, Howell burglarized the Taylor home at 1 E. Woodbridge Lane. A woman called 911 from the residence.
Arriving officers first found Choucroun dead in her driveway next door to the Taylor residence. When they entered the Taylor home, they found the critically injured couple in the basement.
Officers then began a house-to-house search and found the bodies of the Hursts in the front yard of Lorene Hurst’s home at 7 E. Woodbridge. She and her son may have just returned from grocery shopping.
Witnesses told police that after hearing several gunshots, they saw the Taylors’ Toyota Highlander speed down the street. One witness said the driver stopped in front of Choucroun’s house, got out and shot Choucroun before getting back in the vehicle and driving away.
A few hours later, police called to the Motel 6 at 8230 N.W. Prairie View Road found three assault victims, one with several cuts on his head. They told police that a man had followed them to their room and asked for a cigarette before assaulting them.
Police soon found the Highlander abandoned a few blocks away in a restaurant parking lot.
Late that night, officers acting on the tip stopped Howell as he walked along Interstate 29 carrying a shotgun in his right pant leg. He had two spent shells in a pocket along with the keys to the Highlander, officers said.
Two of the three victims from the motel incident identified Howell as the man who assaulted them. Platte County prosecutors charged him with multiple crimes related to that incident.