Douglas Howell

Douglas Howell

BLACKFOOT — Douglas Howell, 49, the Shelley resident originally charged with a felony in connection with the death of his mother-in-law Naoma Ware five years ago, has been sentenced to four days in jail and a year’s probation.

The felony charge against Howell was reduced to misdemeanor abuse, exploitation or neglect of a vulnerable adult. He entered a guilty plea and was sentenced Sept. 4 by Magistrate Judge James Barrett.

Douglas Howell’s son, Harley Howell, 25, faces the same charges, but to date remain felonies and include failure to report his grandmother’s death to the authorities after she was found dead at her home in October 2014.

Harley Howell pleaded innocent to the charges in District Court on Monday. Judge Darren Simpson scheduled a pretrial conference for Jan. 3 and jury trial for Jan. 28. Howell was continued free on bond.

According to court records, Harley Howell did not report his 79-year-old grandmother’s death because his mother, Danielle, who was her caretaker, feared she would get into trouble because her mother appeared malnourished.

They concealed her body for a time, then buried it in an old duck pen on her property. Ware’s death didn’t come to light until May following an investigation by the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office that resulted when someone reported her as a missing person in December 2018 because they were unable to contact her following the death of her daughter, Danielle Howell, the preceding November.