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Child heard gunshot that killed mom

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DONALDSONVILLE - A six-year-old spent Monday night with family members after deputies said her father shot and killed her mother while the child was inside their home in Ascension Parish.

Hours before the child was given to relatives, detectives found Shella "Shay" Howard shot to death in her bathroom.  Investigators said they made the discovery after Jaris Howard confessed to killing his wife.  They said he told family members what he had done.

"They didn't know what was going on until he confided in them that he just shot his wife," Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said.

The murder happened at the family's home on Maginnis St.

Shay Howard was shot several times, according to investigators. Jaris Howard was arrested at a family member's home without incident.

The child told detectives her parents were arguing the night before, but she did not know what the argument was about.

"The only person who knows what the argument was about is Jaris and he's not talking," Bacala said.

The six-year-old also told detectives she heard the gunshots that killed her mother but did not witness the murder.

"Right now, she's lost her mother and her father and that's tragic," neighbor Nieka Kelly said.

Kelly lives two houses down from the family and said the couple showed no signs of struggle or violence.

"They were pretty much quiet. They had their dogs. They did their barbecuing in the front yard," she said. "I didn't see where they had that much problems."

Jaris Howard's criminal past spans more than a decade. He's been arrested eleven times since 2000.  Howard has been convicted of drug charges twice and his record also includes a 2010 conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Deputies were told Shay and Jaris were recently separated but trying to work things out.  According to the sheriff's office, deputies were called out to the home in April for a domestic dispute.

"She called deputies because she didn't want him there. By the time deputies arrived, he already left. We referred her to get a temporary restraining order but she never sought to get one," Bacala said.

The couple was living together when the murder occurred, investigators said.



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