Suspect pleads guilty in Dietrich locker room attack

A suspect in a grisly attack on a Dietrich High School football teammate pleaded guilty to a reduced charge Friday.

John R.K. Howard, 19, of Keller, Texas, pleaded guilty to a felony count of injury of a child, the Twin Falls Times-News reported Friday.

Howard faces two to three years’ probation. He could avoid jail or prison time, and have his conviction dismissed, if he successfully completes probation, the Times-News reported.

Howard and two teammates were accused of using a coat hanger to assault another teammate in an October 2015 attack. Howard had originally faced a felony charge of forcible penetration using a foreign object.

In agreeing to the reduced charge, Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer said prosecutors do not believe the attack was a sex crime, according to The Times-News reported. Hemmer also said prosecutors do not consider the attack to be racially motivated; the three suspects are white, while the victim is black.

“This was more of a vulnerable-victim motivated crime,” Hemmer said, according to the Times-News. The victim is mentally disabled.

The Dietrich School District still faces a $10 million civil lawsuit in the case — which alleges district officials either knew about an escalating pattern of violence, or should have been aware of the situation.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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