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Trial to begin for man charged in triple homicide

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2014 12:00 a.m. CDT

HOFFMAN ESTATES – The fate of a man charged with first-degree murder in the 2009 stabbing deaths of his girlfriend’s father, sister and grandmother may hinge on whether jurors believe he was insane at the time.

D’Andre Howard’s trial begins Tuesday. Defense attorneys contend he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being sexually and physically abused as a child, and that he was insane when an argument with his girlfriend turned into a vicious attack on her family.

Prosecutors have not challenged Howard’s PTSD diagnosis, but they insist he was legally sane at the time of the April 17, 2009, slayings, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald reported.

The trial comes more than five years after police were called to a home in Hoffman Estates to discover a grisly scene in a house where three people were fatally stabbed: 57-year-old Alan Engelhardt, 18-year-old Laura Engelhardt and 73-year-old Marlene Gacek.

At the time, authorities said the then-20-year-old Howard had just been released from jail after posting bond on a charge of failing to appear in court. They say he got into an argument with his girlfriend, Amanda Engelhardt, at their apartment when he confronted her over suspicions she was cheating on him.

The next night Howard went to the home of his girlfriend’s family, authorities say. She was there and the two argued again, with Howard allegedly grabbing a butcher knife, threatening other family members and tying his girlfriend, her sister and mother with yarn.

According to authorities, he put down the knife to untie his girlfriend and Laura Engelhardt grabbed it and stabbed him in the arm.

A report by psychologists for Howard’s attorneys calls that the “final trigger” for the brutal attack that left three people dead and the girlfriend’s mother seriously injured.

Authorities said Howard allowed his girlfriend to call 911 more than five hours after he first arrived at the house. When police arrived, Howard was still there and taken into custody. Gacek and Alan Engelhardt were dead. Laura Engelhardt was still alive and able to tell police what had happened before she also died.

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