Jury gets case where man accused of trying to kill four, including three children, in Schenectady

Dushawn Howard leaves Schenectady County Court on Tuesday.
Dushawn Howard leaves Schenectady County Court on Tuesday.

SCHENECTADY — Four people emerged from a Union Street home last summer with gunshot wounds.

“My Mom’s boyfriend just shot us — all three,” the 16-year-old victim told a 911 dispatcher after escaping with her younger brother.

Her mother later slid down the blood-slicked staircase and into the arms of rescuers, who stormed the house to locate the infant who had been left behind.

Now it’s up to a jury, who began deliberations on Tuesday afternoon, to determine if the shooting of Aishah Goodwin and two of her children was a methodological attempt by Dushawn Howard to kill his family, or, as he has claimed, the collateral damage following a scuffle for the firearm.

Update: Howard guilty in shooting of ex, two children in Schenectady, April 24, 2019

Jurors were dismissed for the day at 6:25 p.m. after three hours of deliberations and will return on Wednesday morning.

Before adjourning, jurors requested access to several transcripts, including those related to the assault charges.

Attorneys presented closing arguments Tuesday morning in the case of Howard, who is on trial in Schenectady County Court for four counts of second-degree attempted murder. The shootings took place at 1373 Union St. last July.

Goodwin, 36, suffered life-threatening injuries.

The trial has lasted two weeks, which saw testimony from 60 witnesses and roughly 300 pieces of evidence, including those related to when Howard allegedly punched Goodwin in the face last April, a fuse prosecutors say ultimately led to the shooting three months later.


Howard faces numerous additional charges related to both incidents, including aggravated criminal contempt for violating a previous order of protection against Goodwin, first-degree assault, criminal possession of a handgun and reckless endangerment. 

Each attempted murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, which means if he is found guilty on even one charge, Howard could still face significant prison time.

Goodwin testified Howard was fulfilling a pledge to kill her and their children if she left him — including a 7-year-old and 16-year-old — before turning the gun on their infant son, apologizing before pulling the trigger.

It clicked without firing, she said.

Howard claims the shootings happened during a chaotic argument that resulted in a struggle for the firearm, which he said he bought for $400 to protect his stepson from local gang members.

Defense attorney Mark Sacco said Howard had his bags packed and was moving out of their shared home on July 10.

Before leaving, Howard testified he was removing a firearm at Goodwin’s request from the residence when she lunged at him, resulting in an accidental discharge of the weapon four times over a 13-second struggle for the weapon.

“He’s walking by her by the end of the couch, and she reaches for the weapon,” Sacco said. “The bottom line is she came after him. She got her hands on him and they struggled.”

Each of the bullets stuck family members gathered in the living room, according to Howard’s account.

Assistant District Attorney Christina Tremante-Pelham disputed Goodwin reached for the weapon. “Why would she try to grab [the gun] when she just said she wants it out of the house?” she said. The noise generated from a single gunshot would probably startle and subsequently loosen anyone’s grip of the gun, she said.

Howard had wrapped the weapon in a sock, which both prosecutors and defense agreed was a critical component of the shooting.

“You cannot attempt to murder someone with a gun in a sock,” Sacco said. “It’s just not possible.”

Goodwin and several of her children previously testified the two fought in a bathroom before the incident. 

She admitted that her relationship with Howard could be volatile and that she threw a fan into bathtub water in an attempt to electrocute him. 

Update: Howard guilty in shooting of ex, two children in Schenectady, April 24, 2019

Sacco called it “implausible” that Goodwin and Howard hit a reset between the incidents, and said it was one continuous fight that resulted in all parties being injured due to the cramped confines of the living room, details of which Howard recounted on Monday. 

“If you condense the people in a small area, it becomes much more reasonable, much more plausible, that’s the way it happened,” Sacco said.

Memories are malleable during traumatic events, Sacco said, referring to the victims’ testimony, including from the two children who said their adopted stepfather deliberately shot them.

Goodwin testified she watched Howard attempt suicide by shooting himself; he claimed he was shot in a scuffle.

Howard left through the back door before law enforcement arrived and was later apprehended at a friend’s house on Summit Avenue (now Georgetta Dix Place).


Assistant District Attorney Christina Tremante-Pelham said the statements from the victims and the subsequent evidence revealed clear intent.

“His intent was to kill that day,” she said. “These shootings were the results of intentional acts.”

Goodwin testified that the two struggled for the firearm, but only after she and the children had been shot — and the struggle did not result in the firearm being discharged.

Howard’s versions of events “defies logic and defies evidence,” said Tremante-Pelham, who said it was impossible the gun could have fired during the struggle owing to the revolver design, which requires the user to cock the hammer and pull the trigger.

Discharges would have been impossible if Goodwin’s hands were placed in the position described by Howard during his testimony, she said. 

And doing so would be implausible with the weapon encased in a sock.

“The only way to shoot someone with a sock on a gun is to do it intentionally,” Tremante-Pelham said. “You would have to put your hand in that sock to pull the trigger.”

The prosecutor traced a long, methodical account of a simmering Howard, angered over the dissolution of their relationship, who punched Goodwin in the face on April 11, which lit the slow-burning fuse to the July 10 shooting.

Goodwin, she said, was to testify against Howard in that incident in a trial scheduled for just six days after the shooting. Detectives delivering a subpoena sparked a confrontation between the two, which initially began in the bathroom and spilled into the living room. 

But Tremante-Pelham said the conflict was two separate and distinct actions — not a prolonged scuffle as Howard claimed.

Goodwin testified she took a shower following the fight. 

She described wanting to take the kids and go to her father’s house, but wanted to change her 18-month-old’s diaper before they left. 

That’s when she was shot, she said.  Tremante-Pelham estimated the shooting happened between 10 and 15 minutes after the initial argument.

All gunshots were Level 1 trauma wounds: “Kill shots,” Tremante-Pelham said, citing testimony given by medical experts who treated the victims.

Howard shot Goodwin first, Tremante-Pelham said. He shot the 6-year-old twice and then the 16-year-old when she tried to intervene, the prosecutor said.

The defendant attempted to shoot his infant son, but the gun didn’t fire, she said. A second attempt to shoot the teenager also failed.

Update: Howard guilty in shooting of ex, two children in Schenectady, April 24, 2019

A fifth shot, which prosecutors suspected to be Howard’s suicide attempt, rang out two minutes later, revealed on a surveillance video from a Phoenix Avenue location that captured audio of the incident, evidence prosecutors said contradicts Howard’s account that the shots went off in quick succession.

Howard denied attempting suicide by shooting himself below the chin. But the medical expert who treated both Goodwin and Howard testified his wounds were “consistent” with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and that hers would be “very difficult” to have occurred during a struggle.

Furthermore, the prosecutor said, a bullet hole embedded in a door frame down the hall from the shooting would have been impossible under the scenario described by Howard.

“All three of the witnesses in this house told you Dushawn Howard pointed a gun and shot,” Tremante-Pelham said.

The gun was never recovered — even despite a fresh search of the residence on Monday following Howard’s testimony.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply