Jurors hear Daniel French confess to Barbara Howe slaying

The last piece of the prosecution’s case in the trial of Daniel French was presented Wednesday when the jury heard recording of his confession to Barbara Howe’s slaying.

On Dec. 10, Middletown Detective Richard Bush, traveled to Berea, Ky., at the request of the county prosecutor for the arrest of French at his sister’s home on Flat Gap Road.

Bush, now retired and serving as a bailiff in common pleas court, was called to the stand as the last witness for the prosecution. He recalled finding French asleep in bed with a loaded rifle. Also with him was a suicide note and CSI books and movies.

In the fourth interview between police and French, the former Mount Pleasant Retirement Village employee wanted to know if he could ask a question off the record.

“He (French) asked if the trial could be a quick trial,” Bush testified. “He didn’t want anybody in the courtroom — his family, Mrs. Howe’s family. He said he just wanted it over with.”

During the 30-minute audio interview, Bush asked French, “Number one, either you are a horrible monster, horrible monster or number two, something went wrong, it was an accident or it just didn’t go down the way it was supposed to go.”

French answered, “It was number two.”

Prosecutors say French hatched a plan to rob Howe using the ruse of repairing her medical alarm system. Once he gained entry to her home, French shocked Howe with a stun gun, but when she didn’t go down, he choked her, then slit her throat with a double-edged knife.

French’s attorneys have argued that while he did cause Howe’s death, it was accidental after she didn’t fall when shocked with a stun gun. The defense said French then choked Howe and only cut her throat when he thought she was already dead.

“It wasn’t my intention to choke her to death,” French said.

French said he knew Howe was dead because “I felt my soul leave.”

When Bush asked French if it was a relief that he has finally been arrested.

ExploreFrench said, “I seen Mrs. Howe’s ghost and I apologized to her.”

In the confession tape, French said he dragged Howe and dropped her in the crawl space and left the residence tossing her clothes and bed sheets in a Dumpster at the retirement community. He later returned to the house, placed Howe’s body in her car then slit her throat, cut her hair in an attempt to get rid of DNA from his saliva, then poured peroxide on her as well as vacuum cleaner contents.

French said he took $18 from Howe and a more than 3-carat diamond ring that he said he tossed out the window when he drove her car to a Middletown apartment complex and left it.

“It is terrible and maybe I am a monster. I just never planned to be like that,” French said.

Bush was asked by defense attorney Melynda Cook to read French’s note found with him at the time of his arrest.

In it, French thanked his family, told them to “burn him” and ended the suicide note with, “Forgive me Lord in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”

French’s sister who has been in the courtroom during the entire trial, cried softly.

If French is convicted of aggravated murder, there will be a penalty phase in which the jury will consider death, life without the possibility of parole, 30 years to life or 25 years to life for French.

The defense called no witnesses. Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday.

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