Home Charlotte Press Releases 2011 Man Sentenced to Serve Over 20 Years in Federal Prison for Interstate Domestic Violence Crimes
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Man Sentenced to Serve Over 20 Years in Federal Prison for Interstate Domestic Violence Crimes
The Victim Suffered Repeated Violent Beatings for Six Days

U.S. Attorney’s Office June 15, 2011
  • Western District of North Carolina (704) 344-6222

CHARLOTTE, NC—Robbie Paul Howell, 32, of Lansing, N.C., was sentenced on June 14, 2011, by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees to serve 250 months in federal prison based on convictions for interstate domestic violence in violation of the Violence Against Women Act and kidnapping, announced U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins of the Western District of North Carolina.

U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Division, and Sheriff James Williams of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office. A federal grand jury indicted Howell on interstate domestic violence and kidnapping charges in March 2010. His federal trial began on August 24, 2010. Following three days of evidence, the jury convicted Howell on both charges. Testimony at trial established that Howell, who worked as a truck driver, forced his wife and their two-year-old daughter to accompany him on a six-day interstate trucking trip from North Carolina to California, and back through Oklahoma, where the truck was stopped by local police. According to the evidence presented at trial, Howell repeatedly subjected his wife to domestic violence during that six-day trip, including beating her with a Mag flashlight, suffocating her, and punching her in the face and all over her body with his fists in the presence of their two-year-old child.

Trial evidence suggested that Howell thought he was beyond the reach of the law because he committed his violent crimes in different states during the six days he held his wife hostage and subjected her to repeated brutal physical assaults. When Howell was interviewed by law enforcement officers following his crimes, he bragged to Ashe County detectives that he could not be prosecuted because he was not in their county when he beat the victim. One witness testified also that Howell boasted that law enforcement, “Ain’t got nothing on me. They don’t know what state I was in. They can’t do nothing to me.” At the sentencing hearing, Judge Voorhees said that the confinement of Howell’s wife could “only be described as imprisonment in the cab of the truck for six days.” In pronouncing the twentyplus year federal prison sentence, Judge Voorhees called Howell’s conduct, “cruel and prolonged, merciless and calculating.” Judge Voorhees added that the severe sentence was warranted because of the “cruel and inhuman nature” of the crime, and the “horrendous actual nightmare that the victim suffered.”

“The Violence Against Women Act was enacted to prosecute interstate domestic abusers like Robbie Howell,” said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. “Howell stupidly thought he was shielded from justice because he committed his crimes across various state lines. Now he has twenty years to contemplate his violent conduct against a vulnerable victim of abuse. This sentence sends a message to victims of interstate domestic violence that our office will work with our federal, state, and local partners to protect their rights, and to ensure that perpetrators of domestic abuse are prosecuted and receive the maximum punishment for their crimes,” Tompkins added. “Criminals always believe there is a way to side-step the laws of our country, but our justice system is built on the foundation that no one is above those laws. This man put a woman and her two-year-old child through hell for six days; his long punishment is fitting for his crime,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 39 years and this is one of the most heinous and cruel cases of abuse and beating of a person I have ever seen,” Sheriff Williams stated. “I am glad that Howell received the amount of prison time he did. He deserves every day of it, and hope he does every day of it,” Sheriff Williams added. Howell has been in local federal custody in the Western District of North Carolina since his initial appearance on the federal charges on March 11, 2010. Upon designation of a federal facility, he will be transferred into custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

The investigation was led by the FBI with the assistance of the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimlani Ford and Kurt Meyers of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte. Victims of interstate domestic violence are encouraged to contact their United States Attorney’s Office. For more information on the Department of Justice’s efforts to end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking, please visit: http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/

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