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Man accused of attempting to kill family members takes stand

Man accused of attempting to kill family members takes stand

Man accused of attempting to kill family members takes stand
Prosecutor Michael Nobles questions a witness during the Dushawn Howard trial last week.

SCHENECTADY — Jurors are expected to begin deliberating the fate of the man accused of attempting to kill several family members on Tuesday.

“I anticipate you will begin your deliberations tomorrow afternoon,” Judge Kathleen Hogan told jurors at Schenectady County Court on Monday.

Dushawn Howard is standing trial on four counts of second-degree attempted murder and numerous other charges stemming from the shooting at 1373 Union St. last July.

Prosecutors contend Howard, 48, shot Aishah Goodwin and methodically stalked through their shared home shooting their children — including a 7-year-old and 16-year-old — before unsuccessfully attempting to shoot their infant son. 

Howard testified on Monday the injuries were the result of a 40-second tussle for the firearm, which was in the pouch of his hooded sweatshirt at the time. 

He testified he was attempting to remove the firearm from the home, and the shooting followed a previous argument in which Goodwin pushed him into the bathtub and tried to electrocute him.

“We tussled, fell down, shots went off,” Howard testified. “I never knew the kids were hurt.”

PROLONGED TUSSLE

Goodwin, 36, testified last week that Howard shot her in the head to fulfill his threat to kill her, the couple’s children and himself if she ever decided leave him.

Howard denied that narrative. 

“Never happened,” he said.

Howard’s defense attorney, Mark Sacco, painted his relationship with Goodwin as explosive and kindled by a mix of “poverty, addiction and bad choices.”

Goodwin had testified she watched Howard attempt suicide by shooting himself below the chin with the .38-revolver following the incident. 

Howard said he was injured in the struggle. 

“We were wrestling and tussling,” he said. “And I got shot.”

During his lengthy testimony, he showed jurors the position of their hands during the scuffle.

He said Goodwin had her fingers wrapped around the barrel with her thumb “near” the trigger. His hand was positioned on top of hers. 

“Did you shoot Aishah Goodwin?” asked Sacco.

“No I didn’t,” Howard said.

Assistant District Attorney Christina Tremante-Pelham asked why Howard simply didn’t stop struggling if their actions were resulting in gunfire.

“If I stopped, she already said she was going to shoot,” Howard said.

Tremante-Pelham asked Howard if he thought it was a coincidence that someone was shot each time the gun went off.

“Unfortunately, that’s what happened,” Howard said.

Goodwin previously testified that the two struggled for the firearm, but only after she and her two children had been already shot and injured. And the struggle did not result in the firearm being discharged, she said.

The then-6-year-old testified earlier in the trial that Howard pointed the gun at him before shooting him in the stomach.

DIDN'T CALL 911

Howard left through the back of the house following the incident, and acknowledged leaving his infant son behind.

“I thought I was going to die in front of my child,” he said. "I didn’t want to die in front of my child.”

Howard acknowledged not calling 911 afterward despite the presence of seven phones in the house.

“I was scared, I was terrified,” he said.

Tremante-Pelham said, “You didn’t call 911 because you realized nobody would believe your story.”

“It wasn’t about being caught — I was scared,” Howard said.

He also said he wanted to consult with a lawyer and pastor before notifying the authorities. 

After the shooting, Howard asked a passing motorist for a ride to a friend’s house. He admitted to lying to the driver that he had been stabbed.

“If I told [the motorist] I got shot, I wouldn’t have gotten a ride,” he said.

He estimated it took 20 minutes to travel from Union Street to the home at the former Summit Avenue (now Georgetta Dix Plaza) where he was apprehended after his host called the authorities. 

Howard repeatedly said the shooting left him stunned and unable to think clearly, which is why he didn’t immediately seek medical attention.

Prosecutors pointed at a letter he wrote before being apprehended as evidence of the defendant shifting his story.

“She shot me in the face and ran,” read the letter. “I got the gun and shot her back.”

Howard said he wanted to outline a narrative in the event he succumbed to his injuries.

“I wrote it because I was nervous," he said. "I was scared.”

Prosecutors also allege Howard attempted to manipulate Goodwin into recanting her future testimony, reading from numerous letters he wrote while incarcerated at the CountyJail, where he remains in custody.

Howard suggested quotations for Goodwin in the letters, which were displayed to jurors.

“I want to recant my statement,” read one of the quotes.

Another read: “I was confused. I want to plead the fifth.”

Howard acknowledged the letter was authentic, but said he simply wanted Goodwin to “tell the truth."

Prosecutors also pointed at a letter he penned to Goodwin last November in which he said he was “heartbroken,” asked for forgiveness and wanted a chance to explain his actions.

But it wasn’t about the shooting, he said, but rather his previous drug use.

FIREARM NOT LOCATED

Prosecutors traced the roots of the shooting to when Howard punched Goodwin in the face on April 11, leading to his arrest and a restraining order. 

Howard testified he was also injured in that incident, but declined to press charges.

Both Goodwin and Howard acknowledged violating the restraining order. On the morning of the shooting, detectives delivered a subpoena to Goodwin that would have required her to testify against Howard in this upcoming assault trial. 

Goodwin acknowledged lying to detectives when asked if he was there. 

“I didn’t want to stir anything up,” she said.

Howard allegedly said, “You’re going to let them railroad me" when told about the upcoming testimony. 

He testified on Monday he was unaware the trial would require Goodwin to testify against him.

“I didn’t know about testifying in trial — I just knew it was a subpoena,” he said, noting he had already been offered a plea deal by that time to serve four months in jail.

He also contended he only obtained the firearm to protect a fourth child, who was not present at the time of the shooting, from intimidation by local gang members, and referred to the firearm as a possession he shared with Goodwin.

The gun has not been located.

“I left it in the house — it was in the house when left,” Howard said. “If I’m correct, I threw it in the dining room.”

A tip that led to a search of the now-vacant Union Street residence for the weapon was ultimately unsuccessful, K-9 handler Eric Peters testified on Monday.

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