NEW BRITAIN - In a rare occurrence, accused serial killer William Devin Howell will appear in New Britain Superior Court July 21, as prosecutors try to resolve his case with a guilty plea.
Howell was initially scheduled to appear by video conference on July 12. But the date was moved to July 21 and Howell will be brought to the courthouse.
One of his attorneys, Jeffrey Kestenband, declined to comment on the change in date and the court appearance.
Since he was charged in the deaths of six people in September 2015, Howell has appeared by video camera due in part to the cost of transporting him to court.
Prosecutors revealed during his last court appearance that an offer to close with a guilty plea is on the table.
But the terms weren’t expected to be revealed until July 12, when Howell was scheduled to appear to accept or reject the plea deal. It is unclear if any action on the case will take place on July 21.
Howell has been held on $10 million bond since his arrest in September 2015 on charges that he killed Mary Jane Menard, Joyvaline Martinez, Diane Cusack, Ruth Camilini, Danny Lee Whistnant and Marilyn Gonzalez during a 10-month span in 2003.
Several of the family members of the victims who attended his video appearance in New Britain Superior Court June 7 expressed concern that Howell would insist on taking the case to trial - which would likely mean a months-long ordeal including a recounting of the details of their loved ones’ murders.
Judge Joan Alexander indicated that the case could soon be resolved.
Any agreement on a guilty plea is likely to include a prison sentence of hundreds of years for Howell, a drifter from Virginia who did odd jobs, including landscaping, in Connecticut in 2003.
Police recovered the remains of several of the victims, including those of Nilsa Arizmendi, in April 2015 after an extensive search in a wooded lot behind a Hartford Road plaza.
The remains of Cusack, Menard and Martinez were found in 2007 in the same area the same week Howell was sentenced to a 15-year prison sentence in Arizmendi’s disappearance and death. It took seven years to identify the three women.
Howell’s van was seized in 2004 in North Carolina, months after Arizmendi disappeared. It is now a key piece of evidence along with thousands of pages of documents including DNA test results.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.