Prosecution rests in trial of man accused of shooting Howard Co. police officer

The prosecution has rested in the attempted murder trial of a homeless man accused of wounding a Howard County police officer during a daytime shootout with police on Route 1 in North Laurel last year.

The prosecution presented evidence against Stephon Prather, 30, for four days in Howard County Circuit Court. Prather faces three counts each of first- and second-degree attempted murder, along with various assault and gun charges, in connection with an Oct. 23 shootout with three Howard County police officers.

After the shootout, Prather, who was shot twice in the exchange, led police on a manhunt before being apprehended less than 24 hours later. 

Officer Steven Houk, a then two-year veteran of the force, was shot once in the abdomen. He was taken by medivac to the hospital, where he was released a week later; Houk has since returned to active duty.

The prosecution's evidence included testimony from the three officers involved in the shooting, several witnesses, two videos showing portions of the incident, an expert witness and officers assigned to investigate the crime. 

Several witnesses testified that they saw Prather with a gun and that he engaged in the shootout. There is some debate, however, about who shot first -- Prather or the officers. Officer John Jackson, who responded to the scene as backup to a report of a concealed weapon, testified that he believes he shot first. 

Jackson said his gun was the first one he heard go off. He said he fired because he saw Prather withdraw a gun from his jacket pocket and point it toward the other officers on the scene. 

Houk and the other officer, officer Stella Dieu, testified they did not know who shot first, but that it was not either of them. Two witnesses who watched from their cars said they believed Prather shot first.

According to Howard County State's Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan, Prather's attorney, Janet DeBossiere, said Prather will not take the stand to testify in his own defense.

The trial is expected to last into next week and will resume on Monday. 

Copyright © 2018, Laurel Leader - Laurel, Maryland News, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad