December 30, 2013

Crime of passion: Stabbing case goes to grand jury

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — It was a bloody scene that Laurel County Sheriff’s Detective Charlie Loomis described during a preliminary hearing on Monday involving the stabbing death of a Laurel man earlier this month.

Loomis took the stand in Laurel District Court to testify in the case against Benham resident, Hubert D. Lewis, who is charged with the murder of Clinton Ray Howard on December 12.

Howard was found lying in the kitchen floor of his mobile home on Campbell Road in southern Laurel County with a trail of blood leading from a bedroom where he was stabbed.

Loomis said the investigation revealed Howard had been cut twice while lying crossways on his bed, but had scooted off the bed and went to the kitchen before collapsing on the floor.

Loomis said a female witness was present in the home at the time of the stabbing death and called 9-1-1. But the witness’s story of her location at the time of the incident conflicted and she later changed her story.

“She said she was bathroom, but later she said she was in bed with the victim when the stabbing occurred,” Loomis testified. “She said she had promised sex for money to Mr. Howard.”

The female’s shoes were found beside the air mattress that Howard was using as a bed and her bare footprints were found leading from the bed through the hallway — evidence that she had indeed been in the bedroom at the time of the stabbing. Loomis said the shoes had blood on the top rather than the bottom as they would have had if she had worn the shoes into the bedroom after the stabbing incident.

Loomis added the witness said her mother drove her and her boyfriend, Hubert D. Lewis, to Howard’s home that day.

“She said she had had an ongoing sexual relationship with (Howard) since she was 14 years old,” Loomis added.

While Howard and the female were in the bedroom, Lewis stayed in the living room, Loomis said. But “20 or 30 minutes” later, Lewis, who admitted drinking moonshine, decided he wanted a cigarette and went down the hallway toward the bedroom. Overhearing a conversation between his girlfriend and Howard apparently set off a rage that ended with Howard’s death.

“He went in the bedroom, took out a knife and cut (Howard) two times on the neck,” Loomis said. “It was a pretty sizable knife and he sliced (Howard) on both sides of the neck, cutting the jugular and several other veins.”

Lewis initially told investigators Howard had threatened him with a gun, but later recanted that story. Lewis fled the home after the stabbing incident  and, the next day, he contacted the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office to turn himself in.

Lewis was at his father’s home in Benham, and turned himself in to the sheriff’s office there. Deputies from Laurel County transported Lewis back to the Laurel County Detention Center where he is held under a $250,000 cash bond.

After the hearing, Laurel District Judge Wendell “Skip” Hammons determined probable cause had been presented in the hearing and instructed Lewis to appear in Laurel Circuit Court on January 17 for possible indictment. The grand jury will hear evidence in the case that week and determine if Lewis should be indicted on murder charges.