Harley Howell

Harley Howell

A defense attorney for a Shelley man accused of covering up his grandmother's death for five years wrote that his client lacks the mental ability to participate in his own defense.

Harley Howell was arrested last month after it was discovered he admitted to beating Naoma Ware in 2014. Howell and his mother, Ware's now-deceased daughter, found her dead the next day. Ware was not buried until two months after she died.

The family continued to benefit from Ware's social security until December when Howell's mother died in a car accident and no one could find Ware to inform her.

Douglas Dykman, Howell's attorney, wrote a letter to the court on July 15 informing the judge of his client's mental state.

"I have concerns about the defendant having problems understanding the consequences of his actions and the current proceedings as to enable him to make an informed opinion on this case," Dykman wrote in the letter.

Dykman wrote his client has a low IQ and suffers from multiple mental disorders. Magistrate Judge James Barrett ordered a mental evaluation of Howell during a July 18 hearing.

Howell was charged with abuse and/or neglect of a vulnerable adult and failure to report a death, both punishable with up to 10 years in prison. 

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.