For Immediate Release
Parole Denied in the 2012 Alcohol and Drug-Fueled Killing of Jesse Garcia
SANTA ROSA, CA | July 14, 2022
Heather Anne Howell, 38 years old of Santa Rosa, was denied parole earlier today following a scheduled hearing in front of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations Board of Parole Hearings. This was the initial parole hearing for Howell, who is serving a sentence of 15-years-to-life for the killing Jesse Garcia, also of Santa Rosa. On July 12, 2012, Howell was drunk and high on cocaine when she got into an argument with her then boyfriend, Tony Kraus. Howell proceeded to pursue Kraus in her vehicle on a miles-long, high-speed chase through the streets of Santa Rosa. The chase ended on Hall Road when Howell slammed into the back of the classic convertible car driven by Mr. Garcia. Garcia became trapped under his car after it was engulfed in flames. He succumbed to fire-related injuries at the scene. Howell was subsequently convicted by a jury of charges of murder, reckless driving causing great bodily Injury, and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with a prior DUI conviction. Although Howell was sentenced to 15 years-to-life in prison, with good conduct credits her first eligibility date arrived after just 10 years of incarceration.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch stated, “10 years ago tomorrow the Garcia family lost a beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend in an alcohol and cocaine-fueled road rage incident. Ms. Howell continues to pose an unreasonable risk to the public, and as such, the denial of parole was the only acceptable outcome. Hopefully, Ms. Howell will spend her time in prison reflecting on how she, and she alone, took this man’s life, and how she will ensure that it never happens again.”
During her morning appearance Howell waived her right to a contested hearing, stipulating that she is not yet suitable for parole. As a result, the Board issued a 3-year denial, although Howell can petition for an earlier review. In citing their reasoning for the denial, the Board noted that the homicide was not simply an issue of substance abuse, but also involved domestic violence, stalking, and reckless disregard for the community. The Board also found that Howell continued to demonstrate criminal thinking in some of her conduct while incarcerated, including fighting, and manipulating the system to avoid court-ordered restitution.
The People were represented by Chief Deputy District Attorney Anne C Masterson, who also prosecuted Howell for the offense.
Office of the District Attorney