Appellate court overturns Kern judge’s 2016 decision that granted convicted murderer’s petition for release

Crime Watch
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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — In July 2014, Kevin Howerton was granted parole on a second-degree murder conviction stemming from his beating to death a drug dealer with a hammer 23 years earlier.

Howerton then began serving a 10-year prison term for weapons convictions he racked up while in prison. He filed a petition for release in 2016 under a youth offender parole hearing, and a Kern County judge granted that petition.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal has overturned that ruling, finding Howerton “was not entitled to a youth offender parole hearing when he was convicted” and that it’s “undisputed that under the law at the time of Howerton’s parole, a grant of parole on a life sentence did not relieve one from serving” subsequent prison terms.

The appellate court ordered Howerton’s petition be denied and that he serve his prison term for the weapons convictions. The ruling, filed last month, said Howerton has remained incarcerated pending the court’s ruling.

The ruling contains an overview of the crime that led to Howerton’s life term, saying he was a “troubled child” who used marijuana by age 7 and alcohol by 14.

At 15, he met drug dealer Jeff Ross, who gave him his “daily needs” in exchange for sex, according to the appellate court documents.

Howerton eventually decided to kill Ross, and struck him more than 20 times with a hammer in the head and face, according to the documents. After being sent to prison, Howerton joined white supremacist gangs, attacked other inmates and staff and received the weapons convictions.

“Ultimately, however, he ceased these activities and reformed his behavior to the satisfaction of the parole board,” the documents said.

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