Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jun 2001
Source: Cartesville Daily Tribune,The  (GA)
Copyright: 2001 The Cartesville Daily Tribune
Author: Jonathan Cooper


Editor's note: The following narrative of the arrest and guilty plea 
of Granger Howell was developed through interviews, police records 
and court documents.

On September 27, 2000, agents arrested Granger Howell at a Best 
Western Motel in Dalton for drug trafficking.

Nine months later, Howell is headed to Alabama to serve a 15-year 
sentence. In his wake, he leaves unanswered questions about his 
alleged cocaine supplier, homicide victim Travis Silvers.

At Howell's sentencing, he named Silvers as his drug supplier. On 
March 10, 2001, Silvers was found dead in a Wendy's parking lot, an 
apparent homicide victim. The homicide remains unsolved. Silver's 
name was never mentioned in the Howell case until that final 
sentencing date.

Howell is said to have offered to help the FBI collect evidence 
against Silvers. As he pleaded guilty to selling more than 150 pounds 
of cocaine during a six-month period, the prosecution told Howell he 
would be given a reduced sentence if he provided "substantial 

Federal District Court Judge Harold Murphy said he was willing to 
give Howell credit for being remorseful and for a previously clean 
criminal record.

"But you are hardly an example of cooperation," Murphy told Howell 
during the sentencing.

FBI agent Michael Rotti said Howell continued to have contact with 
Silvers, even after Silvers allegedly threatened to kill him.

"His (Howell's) actions jeopardized the safety of our informant," Rotti said.

The informant, Timonthy Winters, bought drugs from Howell and helped 
the FBI in their investigation. Agents attached recording devices to 
Winters as he dealt with Howell.

Investigators in the Howell case, including Cartersville Police Cpt. 
Frank McCann and Drug Enforcement Administration agent Shontal 
Houston have declined comment on any possible connection between 
Howell and Silvers because of the ongoing homicide investigation.

GBI agent James Garmon and Adairsville Police Dept. Lt. Larry Miolen 
gave limited information on the Silvers homicide investigation.

Miolen said he knew about Silver's alleged drug involvement, but 
attempts to make a connection with the homicide have led to "dead 

At the sentencing hearing, Howell said he called Silvers the night he 
was arrested as agents listened in. There is no mention of this 
conversation in the affidavit that showed probable cause for Howell's 

There is mention of several taped conversation between Howell and 
Winters that eventually led to the arrest. On Sept. 27, Howell met 
Winters at the hotel, where Winters paid Howell for drugs. During the 
transaction, Howell was arrested.

Rotti said it was that same day that Howell identified Silvers as his 
cocaine supplier and agreed to help with the investigation.

The day after the arrest, Howell bonded out of prison for $25,000. 
Howell was agreed to drug testing during his probation and was 
required to attend substance abuse counseling.

On Jan. 16, 2001, Howell tested positive for cocaine, but it was not 
until April 20 that Judge Murphy revoked his parole.

U.S. District Attorney spokesman Patrick Crosby said it can often 
take several weeks following a drug test to make an arrest.

"This was a bit longer than normal, but it's not uncommon," he said. 
"It's important the tests are accurate when you're dealing with 
someone's life like this."

Crosby said there were no special delays in Howell's case. Other 
incidents occurred during the three months that contributed to 
Howell's probation revocation. On three separate days in February, 
Howell refused to take a drug test. On February 26, and then again on 
March 10, Howell did not attend his substance abuse class. It was 
that same day in March that Silvers' body was discovered with 
multiple gunshot wounds to the head.

Five days later, on March 15, Howell pleaded guilty to the drug 
trafficking charge. In an October pre-trial conference, Howell 
indicated he would plead not guilty. The state dismissed three other 
charges against him in exchange for the guilty plea. Because he had 
no previous conviction, Howell remained free on bond following the 
plea until the judge could sentence him on May 25.

Five days after Howell pleaded guilty, Murphy revoked his probation 
because of Howell's failed drug test.

The May 25 sentencing was then delayed until June 21.

At that hearing, Howell made his involvement with Silvers public for 
the first time.

Howell, a race car driver, now heads to Talladega, Alabama where he 
will serve his sentence.

Miolen and Garmon will continue investigating the Silvers homicide. 
Despite the alleged drug connection between Silvers and Howell, 
Garmon said Howell's Alabama incarceration will pose no problems.

"If I need to talk to him, I can make it a road trip, but I don't 
think that will be necessary," he said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh Sutcliffe