Jackson County prosecutors announced Friday they will seek the death penalty against a man accused in the murderous rampage that left five people dead last September in the Woodbridge area of south Kansas City.
Brandon B. Howell, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 2 shotgun slayings of Susan Choucroun, 69, Lorene Hurst, 88, and her son Darrel Hurst, 63. He also is accused in the deaths of George Taylor, 80, and Ann Taylor, 86.
“Our focus today is on the five victims who tragically lost their lives on the afternoon of Sept. 2, 2014, and their loved ones left behind,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a written statement.
In 2006, Jackson County prosecutors sought the death penalty against Richard D. Davis, who was charged in the videotaped killing of Marsha Spicer as well as the kidnapping, rape and torture of Michelle Huff-Ricci. Huff-Ricci later died from strangulation and suffocation in Clay County.
Jurors later convicted Davis of first-degree murder and 24 other felonies, including kidnapping, rape, sodomy and assault. The jury acquitted him of one assault charge.
Baker declined to comment further regarding the decision to seek the death penalty against Howell, who is being held without bond.
According to court records, Howell burglarized the Taylor home at 1 E. Woodbridge Lane. A woman inside the residence dialed 911.
Arriving officers first found Choucroun dead in her driveway next door to the Taylor home. When they went inside, officers found the critically injured couple in the basement.
Officers then conducted 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 were called to the Motel 6 at 8230 N.W. Prairie View Road and found three assault victims. 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.
Later that evening, officers acting on a 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.