Donaldsonville man booked in shooting death of wife

A Donaldsonville man with an extensive criminal record is accused of fatally shooting his wife Monday morning, with the couple’s young child in the home, and then calling a relative to say he had just shot his wife.

Jaris Howard was arrested 20 minutes later, officials said.

Ascension Parish Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Bacala said deputies responding to a call mid-morning from the relative found Shella “Shay” Howard, 27, dead in the bathroom of the couple’s home at 1103 Maginnis St., in Donaldsonville. She had been shot several times.

Jaris Howard, 31, was not at the home when deputies arrived but was found later at the home of the relative who had called the Sheriff’s Office, Bacala said.

Howard had asked another relative, who was unaware of what had happened, to bring him there, along with the couple’s 6-year-old child, Bacala said.

The child, who is now with relatives, told deputies she heard a gunshot that morning but did not see the shooting, and that her parents had been arguing on Sunday night, Bacala said.

“Jaris (Howard) is not speaking,” Bacala said Monday evening.

A weapon found in the Howards’ home is being tested to determine if it is the murder weapon, Bacala said.

Howard has been booked into the Ascension Parish Jail on a count of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, with bail yet to be set, Bacala said.

Howard’s criminal record lists 11 prior arrests, beginning in 2000, that include narcotics charges, weapons violations and robbery, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He has convictions for drug charges in 2000 and 2010 and a conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2010.

But domestic abuse is not on the rap sheet. Bacala said deputies in April were called to a disturbance at the Howards’ home. The couple was separated at that time; Shella Howard called the Sheriff’s Office when Jaris Howard, who still had a key to the house, walked into the home while she was sleeping. By the time deputies arrived, Jaris Howard was gone. Deputies advised Shella Howard to get a temporary restraining order, but there is no record of her attempting to do so, Bacala said.

The fatal shooting remains under investigation. Anyone with information can anonymously call the Sheriff’s Office at (225) 621-4636; text 847411 or call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.