Death threats to Benton County judge, probation officer nets 20-year prison sentence for Colorado man

Theodore Howell
Theodore Howell

BENTONVILLE -- A Colorado man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting he threatened the lives of a judge and probation officer.

Theodore Howell, 29, of Denver, pleaded guilty Monday to threatening a judicial officer/juror and terroristic threatening. He was charged as a habitual offender.

Nathan Jeffrey, a probation officer, reported to the Benton County Sheriff's Office he received a text message threatening to kill him from Howell, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Jeffrey said he knew the phone belonged to Howell because it was the same phone number Howell had for being on probation, and Jeffrey had communicated with Howell using that number, according to the affidavit.

Howell was accused of sending the threats via the Benton County Sheriff's Office's website, according to court documents.

There were threats directed at Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren and one threat directed at Jeffrey, according to court documents.

Howell said in the first threat he planned to kill Karren when he's walking to court, and Karren would never expect it, according to the affidavit. Howell said he planned to kill Jeffrey at the probation office.

Howell described Karren as transphobic in the second one, according to the affidavit. Howell said he planned to kill Karren with a knife while he was walking to court, the affidavit states.

"I've been arrested for threats before, so this time I will act on it," he states on the form.

Howell said he planned to kill Karren because Arkansas was mean to transgender people and the jail was "super" mean to him the last time he was held there, according to the affidavit.

Michael Braswell, a detective with the Sheriff's Office, interviewed Howell, who first claimed he had been hacked and someone else made the threats, according to the affidavit.

He later admitted texting Jeffrey and making the threats to Karren; Howell said he was never going to follow through with the threats and didn't know why he did it, according to the affidavit.

Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green accepted Howell's guilty plea and sentenced him to 20 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Howell was ordered to complete an anger management program.

He was ordered not to have any contact with Karren and Jeffrey.

Howell was arrested in November 2021 after attempting to enter secured areas of the Bentonville Police Department. Howell was dressed as a woman and armed with a knife, according to court documents.

He pleaded guilty in November 2022 and was placed on six years of state-supervised probation. He was also ordered to seek mental health treatment.