Mt. Airy cocaine dealer faces decades in jail

Published 12:15 am Saturday, February 3, 2018

EDGARD — Prosecutors are looking to send a local man away for decades after securing his conviction on numerous gun and drug charges.

Howard Burl Jr.’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20 in front of Judge E. Jeffrey Perilloux, according to District Attorney Bridget A. Dinvaut’s office.

“The State intends to seek a sentence pursuant to the Louisiana Habitual Offender law, which will expose Burl to a sentence of up to 40 years without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence,” a release from Dinvaut stated.

Following a two-day trial in December, Burl was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance, possession with the intent to distribute powder cocaine, possession of crack cocaine and attempted obstruction of justice.

The 53-year-old Mt. Airy man’s trial stemmed from a July 23, 2015, arrest made by St. John Sheriff’s Office narcotics officers, who were acting on an informant’s word that Burl was actively involved in crack and cocaine dealing throughout St. John the Baptist Parish, prosecutors said.

Burl fled from officers and attempted to discard narcotics from his vehicle during a brief chase when police approached during the July 23 apprehension.

“Three narcotics officers testified that Burl was the only occupant of the vehicle, observed Burl throw the narcotics from the vehicle and heard Burl acknowledge the presence of the firearm,” according to the District Attorney’s office.

Burl has prior convictions for manslaughter and simple rape in St. John Parish, as well as felony battery on a correctional officer from Claiborne Parish.

Though Burl had numerous felony convictions, he was given an early parole by the Department of Corrections and released in 2013, prosecutors said.

Assistant District Attorney J. Philip Prescott Jr. led the prosecution. Assistant District Attorney Briana Robertson was also involved. Public Defender’s Office attorney Shannon Battiste represented Burl.