Victim's family takes stand in Daniel French murder trial
BUTLER COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - The Barbara Howe murder trial continued on Thursday with the victim's family taking the stand for the first time.
Daniel French, 56, is facing capital murder charges in the death of Howe. Butler County prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he intends to prove that French shot Howe with a stun gun and then choked her in an effort to steal her diamond ring.
Patricia Marshall, Howe's younger sister, told the jury that she was very close to her sister and talked to Howe almost everyday. Marshall said she left several unanswered voice messages to Howe. When her sister did not return any of the phone calls, Marshall became concerned.
"I didn't get an answer and I said 'Barbara I can't understand why you're not answering my calls' so I hung up and then I got to worrying," Marshall said.
Marshall said she contacted a maintenance worker where Howe lived Mount Pleasant Retirement Village to go inside the missing woman's apartment. Marshall told the jury that the maintenance man told Marshall that Howe was nowhere to be seen.
Butler County prosecutor Mike Gmoser said he intends to prove that French shot Howe with a stun gun and then choked her in an effort to steal her diamond ring.
Howe's youngest daughter, Donna Wesselmen, went to her mother's apartment and said she noticed a few things that seemed odd for a woman who kept her home as neat as a pin. Wesselmen said she saw a bath towel thrown on the floor the night Howe went missing.
Howe's family filed a missing person's report and an alert was issued for Howe's car which was found by Middletown Police Lt. Walter Reeve. In the trunk of the Cadillac police found Howe's lifeless body.
French faces several years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, but he could receive the death penalty if convicted of Howe's murder.
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