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East Valley Focus

VAN NUYS : Defendant Denies Shooting Officer

August 10, 1993|THOM MROZEK

A 29-year-old man testifying on his own behalf admitted Monday that he tried to shoot police officers after a botched armed robbery at a Northridge restaurant, but said that the officer wounded in the gun battle was probably hit by a bullet fired from another officer's gun.

"I tried to blow his brains out," Howard D. Holt of Pacoima said about firing one round from his .44-magnum handgun at Officer Willard Howard on Jan. 15, 1992.

On the last day of his trial in Van Nuys Superior Court, Holt said his first shot went off accidentally. He said he fired his second shot at the Los Angeles police officers outside the Grandview Chinese restaurant in self-defense after they shot at him first.

Holt and his defense attorney, Ezekiel Perlo, asserted that Officer Howard shot Officer Dennis Hinman during the confusion of the gunfight in the small parking lot behind the restaurant. Hinman was hit in the leg.

Holt was the last witness in a five-week trial for him and another Pacoima man, 28-year-old Claude E. Davis. After hearing closing arguments and instructions from the judge Monday night, the jury will begin deliberations this morning.

Holt and Davis were arrested at the Grandview restaurant after three hostages were released unharmed. Holt has already pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery stemming from the incident.

In addition to attempted murder charges in the Hinman shooting, Holt and Davis also face murder charges in the shooting death of a musician working at a Studio City restaurant when two men robbed the establishment on Nov. 27, 1991.

Davis and Hinman were both charged with 51 counts. Holt has previously pleaded guilty to 19 charges, admitting that he was the robber in four of the seven incidents alleged by prosecutors.

If convicted on all counts, Holt and Davis would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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