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Indiana man on his way to LA Pride with weapons in car enters not guilty plea

James Wesley Howell, an Indiana man who was on his way to LA Pride in West Hollywood last year when he was arrested in Santa Monica, where police seized weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials found in his car, entered a not guilty plea. Photo: Santa Monica Police Department.

LOS ANGELES — An Indiana man who was on his way to LA Pride in West Hollywood last year when he was arrested in Santa Monica, where police seized weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials found in his car, entered a plea of not guilty Tuesday.

APPEARS IN COURT

James Wesley Howell, 20, entered the plea during his arraignment at the Airport Branch Courthouse.

Howell’s next court appearance is April 27 for a pretrial conference.

If he is convicted on all counts, Howell could face up to nine years and eight months in jail, said Greg Risling, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

Howell remains jailed in lieu of $2 million bail, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s website.

THE ARREST

Howell, who was arrested on June 12 about 5 a.m. by Santa Monica police, told police he was planning to attend the 46th annual LA Pride Parade and Festival in West Hollywood, but made no reference to wanting to harm anyone, police said.

The incident alarmed many people because it took place a few hours after a gunman, who was eventually fatally shot, killed 49 people in a mass shooting at the Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub Pulse.

But Santa Monica police officials said there was no known connection between Howell and the Pulse nightclub massacre.

The police were called after Howell was seen knocking on a resident’s door and window.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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