Man who shot Howard police officer to serve 56 years

By Luke Lavoie

A homeless man convicted of attempted murder for shooting a Howard County police officer in broad daylight was sentenced to 56 years in prison Friday.

Stephon Prather, 30, of no fixed address, was sentenced in connection with the Oct. 23, 2013, shootout with three county police officers that occurred in the middle of Route 1 in North Laurel. In July, a Howard County jury convicted Prather of three counts of second-degree attempted murder and other charges stemming from the incident that hospitalized officer Steven Houk, a then two-year veteran of the force, with a gunshot wound and resulted in a 17-hour police manhunt for Prather, who was also shot twice in the melee.

At the hearing in Howard County Circuit Court Friday, prosecutors argued for a sentence of 65 years, citing the brazen circumstances of the shootout, according to County State’s Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.

Prather’s defense attorney, who was almost dismissed by Prather during the trial, argued that he is not “a dangerous person in some circumstances,” and asked for a lighter sentence. Prather, who did not testify during his trial, did not speak during the proceeding, Kirwan said.

Judge Richard Bernhardt said Prather created “a Dodge City situation on Route 1,” and added that his decision to live life by his own rules is “contrary to society.”

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