Howard will argue self-defense in 2009 Hoffman Estates slayings, attorney says

D'Andre Howard, charged with the 2009 slayings of three members of a Hoffman Estates family, plans to argue self-defense when his trial begins, possibly later this year, his attorney said.

During a court hearing Tuesday, Howard's attorney also submitted a report from an expert who concluded Howard suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and that “PTSD influenced his behavior in 2009.”

Cook County Assistant Public Defender Jim Mullenix, Howard's attorney, previously indicated that Howard was diagnosed with PTSD at age 8.

Police charged Howard, 23, with first-degree murder in the deaths of 18-year-old Conant High School senior Laura Engelhardt; her father Alan Engelhardt, 57; and Alan's mother-in-law, Marlene Gacek, 73. Police also charged Howard with the attempted murder of Shelly Engelhardt, the mother of Laura and wife of Alan, who was seriously injured during the attacks.

Prosecutors say Howard stabbed the family members on April 17, 2009, following an argument with Amanda Engelhardt, the daughter of Alan and Shelly Engelhardt and Howard's girlfriend at the time.

Howard claimed in a videotaped interview with police that he was acting in self-defense, starting when he and Laura Engelhardt struggled while engaging in horseplay with the knife.

Last month, Mandeltort ruled that jurors will be able to view the convoluted, frequently inaudible videotaped statement Howard gave to police explaining his version of the events that took place at the Engelhardt family home the day of the murders.

If convicted of two or more charges of first-degree murder, Howard faces a life sentence. He next appears in court on Nov. 3.

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