The 17-year-old suspected in the shotgun killing of her father, waived her right to formal extradition proceedings Monday and will be returned to face charges in North Carolina.
In a brief hearing before Judge Stephen Shepard, Assistant Public Defender Muneer Awad said he had consulted with Crystal Brooke Howell and she had agreed to waive extradition. Howell, shackled and dressed in an orange- and white-striped jumpsuit, acknowledged she had agreed to return to her home state, signed a waiver and was led out of the courtroom.
North Carolina officials said they were still working out the details on Monday as to when she would return.
Howell was taken into custody last week in Augusta after the discovery of the body of her father Mike Howell, a former sports writer and editor for The Columbia County News-Times.
According to search warrant affidavits, after her arrest Crystal Howell told North Carolina investigators she shot her father in the head with a shotgun sometime last month and later threw away the spent shell.
She has been in police custody since March 23, when she was arrested at a Motel 6 on Boy Scout Road. North Carolina authorities had been seeking her since friends staying at her home in Maggie Valley, N.C., discovered her father’s body in a plastic tote bin inside a storage shed on the property.
According to the arrest warrant, Michael Howell had been dead since Feb. 23. Police said he died of a single gunshot to the head.
Crystal Howell’s aunt, Brenda Ennis, who lives in Evans, said her niece had a difficult childhood and a history of emotional problems, which she thought contributed to the tragedy.
“I can tell you there is a lot more wrong with Crystal than has come out,” Ennis said. “There have been so many issues but they have compounded by all that she has been through over the years.”
Ennis said she only knew her niece as a “loving, sweet child” who craved loved and affection.
“She’s not a heinous monster,” Ennis said. “It is a heart breaking tragedy, that’s all I know. People need to understand mental illness is serious and it can be pushed to the limit and I think this is what has happened.”