Brandon Howell, man charged in Tuesday's homicide, accused and acquitted of 1998 murder

The man suspected in Tuesday’s triple homicide in Kansas City has been accused of murder before.

But in 2009, a Jackson County jury acquitted Brandon Howell of double murder charges in a high-profile case.

Now, five years later, Jackson County authorities say Howell is responsible for a shooting rampage in a quiet south Kansas City neighborhood.

Howell was charged Wednesday with three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Susan Choucroun, Darrel Hurst and Lorene Hurst, said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker during a news conference. He was also charged with other counts related to Tuesday's shooting, including assault charges for the two other people shot in south Kansas City.

In 2006, prosecutors charged Howell with the murders of Tabitha Brewer and Nick Travis, a major development to the Kansas City cold case.

Brewer and her boyfriend, Travis, disappeared in 1998. Months later, police found Travis’ body buried in the backyard of a home in the 5400 block of Paseo.

Brewer’s remains were never found.

When they charged Howell in 2006, prosecutors and detectives felt they had a strong case, based on evidence they had gathered and witness statements.

One person picked Howell out of a police lineup, saying he had thrown Brewer’s burned purse in a dumpster.

Other witnesses told police they heard confessions about the crime. One woman told detectives Howell had threatened her with a shotgun and said, "I'll do you like I did Tabby."

According to court documents, the motive was money. Brewer had been awarded a $40,000 settlement from a car accident shortly before she disappeared. Police said she was unable to access the money because they were in a trust fund.

Despite the case prosecutors built against Howell, the jury shocked the victims’ family members by finding not guilty of both murder counts.

"What more do they need?" Brewer's mother told 41 Action News after the verdict. "Justice has not been served."

At the time of the trial in Jackson County, Howell had already been serving a lengthy prison term in Kansas.

In 2000, he was convicted in Johnson County for kidnapping, assault, robbery and cruelty to animals.  That October 1999 crime spree played out in Gardner, according to the criminal complaint obtained by 41 Action News.

Authorities seized a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun in that case. A judge later ordered to have that evidence destroyed in 2012, following Howell's prison sentence.

It is the same kind of firearm allegedly used in Tuesday's shootings. Jackson County court records indicate Howell purchased another shotgun in January 2000, shortly before his conviction in Kansas.

Howell paroled out of prison in February 2011, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections. 

Johnson County court records also show he had two assault convictions as a juvenile.

Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook .

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