By JON REMACHE & TYRICE HESTER
The fate of accused murderer of a New York City police officer on the East River Drive in October, 2015 still hung in the balance as jurors deliberated for the second consecutive day on Thursday.
The defendant, Tyrone Howard, did not appear in the courtroom as the Manhattan jury resumed deliberations but members of the victim Randolph Holder’s family and many members and board officers of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Assn. waited in the pews to possibly hear the verdict.
On Wednesday the panel asked Justice Michael J. Obus to explain the difference between aggravated manslaughter, and first and second degree murder. Jurors also asked to reread the testimony of Officer Holder’s partner, a key witness in the month-long trial. Holder, who was 33, had a long pedigree in law enforcement as his father and grandfather both served as police officers in their native Guyana.
The events that led to Holder’s death began when Howard was involved in an unrelated shooting on the night of the incident, which led to a foot chase that resulted in Officer Holder being shot and killed as he and his partner Omar Wallace approached the suspect who was riding a bicycle.
Howard, a petty drug pusher nicknamed Peanut, was shot in the leg and quickly apprehended shortly by officers on a footbridge over the highway He was taken into custody following a trip to the hospital. While in custody, Howard gave a false name told police he was on PCP and told investigators he had served as an informant in other cases.
The defendant’s history as a career criminal complicates the narrative of the fateful encounter on East River Drive. Howard was out on bail before being charged with another drug case in 2014, in which Supreme Court Justice Patricia Nunez sentenced Howard to enter rehab rather than send him to prison. Holder was shot and killed a few weeks following the sentence, drawing criticism of Nunez.
Howard pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and aggravated murder charges a month after the shooting. He then made an appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court last June. The hearing was short lived as Howard was led away after asking for a new attorney and refusing to cooperate citing confusion, blindness and discomfort, according to news reports.
Two months earlier, Howard refused to attend his court appearance citing his Islamic beliefs while refusing to attend court on Fridays.
Howard’s rap sheet dates back to when he was 14 years old, mainly consisting of drug-related charges.