No bond for York woman accused of shooting fiancé to death

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comDecember 17, 2012 

— After waiting in jail for more than a year, the woman accused of fatally shooting her fiancé – a prominent York lawyer – learned Monday she’d be staying behind bars when a judge denied her bond.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles denied bond for Christina Adams despite arguments by her attorney, public defender Amy Sikora, that Adams – the mother of an 11-year-old daughter – isn’t a flight risk or a danger to the community.

Adams, 28, is charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

If the case doesn’t go to trial by March, Nettles said, Adams could ask a judge again to release her on bond.

On Oct. 10, 2011, Michael Howe, 44, was found shot to death at the Smith Street home he had shared with Adams. Howe had been shot “many times,” said Greg Voigt, the Charleston solicitor prosecuting the case.

Adams told police she shot Howe in front of Daniel Martin, a friend who had been eating dinner with the couple. Her daughter, then 9, was on the front lawn of the home at the time. According to the original incident report, Adams told police Howe had hit her.

During the hearing, Sikora painted a picture of Adams as a victim of domestic violence, saying Howe physically abused her during their two-and-a-half years as a couple.

The night of Howe’s death, Adams asked Martin to come over because she lived “in fear for her life,” Sikora said, adding that Howe and Adams kept guns strapped to the headboard of their bed.

Adams tried to kill herself twice “out of desperation,” Sikora said. “She simply thought and felt she had no way out of this.”

Sikora described Howe as a gun enthusiast and expert in systema – a Russian martial art that includes hand-to-hand combat, knife-fighting and firearms training.

In police reports filed in recent years, Adams made several allegations of domestic violence against Howe, including a 2009 incident in which she said Howe punched her after she researched facts about steroids she believed Howe had been taking.

Mary “Micky” Howe, Howe’s mother, took issue with Sikora’s claims about her son, telling the court, “It’s not like Michael...it’s not who Michael was.” She said her son bought a car for Adams and let her use his credit cards.

Voigt responded to Sikora’s list of Howe’s alleged past indiscretions, saying, “Mr. Howe isn’t a threat to anyone because he is in the ground.”

Adams has been held at the York County Detention Center since her October 2011 arrest.

Bond had not been set because two resident Circuit Court judges recused themselves due to associations with Howe and his mother, who worked in the court system for many years. Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett recused himself for similar reasons.

During a February preliminary hearing, a magistrate judge affirmed the charges against Adams, but magistrates cannot set bond for a murder defendant.

Sikora said the bond hearing had been delayed further because the defense encountered several “issues with discovery” that lawyers are still working through. She could not elaborate.

VIDEO from the bond hearing

Jonathan McFadden (803) 329-4082

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