Suspect in murder of NYC officer due in court for drug sentencing

Howard had been arrested in October 2014 as part of a large-scale sting at a housing project near where Holder was killed.

Suspect in murder of N.Y.C. officer due in court for drug sentencing

A man accused of shooting dead a New York City police officer while in a court-approved treatment plan for drug offenders is due to face a judge on Thursday for violating the terms of the program.

Tyrone Howard, 31, is scheduled to appear in the same Manhattan courtroom where he was allowed to plead guilty in May to selling crack cocaine in exchange for treatment instead of jail time.

The decision by two state judges to process Howard's case through a "drug court" despite a long history of narcotics convictions drew strong criticism from city officials after he was accused of murdering Officer Randolph Holder in New York's East Harlem neighborhood on Oct. 20.

Patricia Nunez, the judge who approved the deal in May, is expected to sentence Howard to as much as 12 years in prison for failing to comply with treatment.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin, who originally had Howard's case, granted his request to transfer the case to Nunez's courtroom, one of several drug courts in New York City in which nonviolent offenders can receive treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

Howard had never been convicted of a violent crime, though he had previously been arrested in connection with a shooting in a case that was eventually dropped by prosecutors. At the time of Holder's death, Howard was wanted by police for questioning in connection with a gang shooting.

Nunez approved a deal in which the guilty plea would be vacated if Howard participated in a two-year treatment program.

McLaughlin has defended his decision as the right call based on the evidence that was before him. Nunez has said she plans to speak at Howard's sentencing.

Howard is scheduled to be arraigned on a separate murder indictment later this month in connection with Holder's killing.

Holder was the fourth New York City police officer killed in the line of duty in the past year.

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