Judge gives New York suspect a dose of Hoosier hospitality

Friday, September 13, 2013

A visit to Putnam Superior Court Wednesday afternoon wasn't as much an arraignment as it was an attitude adjustment for a New Yorker facing four felony charges.

Barrington Howell, 26, one of two Brooklyn suspects facing drug and counterfeiting charges after a Monday traffic stop on Interstate 70, technically made two appearances in front of Judge Denny Bridges in less than 15 minutes.

During his initial appearance, Howell had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf by Judge Bridges for counterfeiting, conspiracy to commit counterfeiting, fraud and possession of a controlled substance. Each is a Class D felony punishable by six months to three years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

When Judge Bridges asked if Howell was employed and consequently might be able to afford his own attorney, the suspect professed that he works "off the books."

"They don't pay me by check," he asserted. "They pay me cash."

Howell suggested he didn't need an attorney and would represent himself at future court dates, including a Nov. 6 pretrial conference.

The judge set the New Yorker's bond at $10,000 cash, the standard Class D felony bond, and moved on to proceedings involving Howell's alleged female accomplice, Quita Kellum, 27, also of Brooklyn.

She is facing the same two counterfeiting charges and a possession of controlled substance allegation.

Kellum's appearance went off without incident. She, too, had not-guilty pleas entered on all counts and was ordered held on $10,000 cash bond.

The only difference in the two New Yorkers' proceedings was that Judge Bridges appointed Trudy Selvia as public defender to represent Kellum at her Nov. 6 pretrial conference.

With court about to wind down for the day, Judge Bridges' staff huddled with him behind the bench for several moments in an impromptu sidebar. In a New York minute, the judge's tone turned more brusque and abrupt than hospitably Hoosier, and he recalled Howell to the defense table at the front of the court.

In the interim, Howell had apparently conveyed to jailer Stevie Smith that he did indeed want a court-appointed lawyer. Smith then relayed word to the court staff, prompting a pointed lecture from the judge.

"You told me you are paid under the table, and I told you I know what that means," Bridges told the suspect without giving him even a second to respond. "And now you're saying you don't have the means to hire an attorney?

"A minute ago you said, 'I don't need an attorney, what's the point?', did you not?"

Howell managed to humbly slip a new request into the conversation. "May I have an attorney," he asked calmly.

"Any objection to that, Mr. (Justin) Long?" Judge Bridges asked the deputy prosecutor.

Long had no objection, and Bridges appointed Scott Adams to represent Howell in further proceedings.

But the judge still had two bones to pick with the defendant.

"The next time you're in this court," Bridges ordered, "I want you to speak up so I can hear you, and don't mumble under your breath.

"And speak with respect," the judge added. "Say 'Yes, sir' and "No, sir,' like when I talk to you. This isn't a playground. We're all adults."

"Yes, sir," Howell responded.

Howell and Kellum were arrested on I-70 about 1 a.m. Monday after Indiana State Police Trooper Yan Dravigne spotted their black Nissan Maxima doing 81 mph in a 70-mph zone.

When the eastbound Nissan made erratic lane changes without signaling, the trooper stopped the car near the 29-mile marker in western Putnam County, and summoned the assistance of Clay County Deputy Brison Swearingen and his K-9 partner.

Once the K-9 "alerted" to the vehicle, a subsequent search revealed traces of marijuana, eight Hydrocodone pills and 21 counterfeit traveler's checks, along with several items of clothing and home improvement goods recently purchased with fraudulent traveler's checks.

Also found in the car was a fake Texas driver's license with a photo of Howell but bearing an alias.

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  • Welcome to indiana!! Haha get em Bridges!!

    -- Posted by Meadow31 on Thu, Sep 12, 2013, at 8:16 PM
  • Greenwillow,it's his wife

    -- Posted by kbmom on Mon, Sep 16, 2013, at 9:59 AM
  • I had that same question when I saw those shirts at the Music Fest, and came to the same conclusion.

    -- Posted by Clovertucky on Tue, Sep 17, 2013, at 5:01 PM
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