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Self-defense Shooting Ruled Justified by Grand Jury

Originally ran here as:
Grand jury vindicates shooter in killing
Antiques dealer will not face charges
June 7, 2001, Florida News-Press

A grand jury determined Wednesday that a Fort Myers antiques dealer was justified in gunning down a drunken, menacing neighbor wielding an ice pick in February.

The jurors found that Fredricka “Ricki” Howie, 53, of North Fort Myers was justified in using deadly force, said Assistant State Attorney Dean Plattner, one of two prosecutors who presented the case to the panel of 18 people.

Gregory Schreffler, 34, died from a single shotgun wound after a long-running dispute with Howie over the barking of her dogs at Honeysuckle Cottage Antiques on Fowler Street, near downtown Fort Myers.

“There was evidence that shows that the deceased, Mr. Schreffler, was armed with an ice pick or a leather punch,” Plattner said.

Police found the ice pick lying in the grass near where Schreffler was shot.

Howie, who was interviewed extensively after the shooting, told police that Schreffler threatened her, Plattner said.

Schreffler’s blood-alcohol content, measured from blood diluted from intravenous fluids, was .18 percent, Plattner said. Blood-alcohol measurements on eye fluids revealed a much higher figure of .27 percent, he said, more than three times Florida’s legal limit of .08 percent for drivers.

Plattner declined to comment on other evidence presented. Grand jury proceedings are secret by law. At least 12 of the jurors had to agree Howie was justified in using deadly force, Plattner said.

A man who answered the phone at Howie’s residence said, “We don’t talk to reporters.”

The antiques shop is now up for sale.

Mack Littleton, who let Schreffler live with him and his mother, testified before the grand jury but didn’t witness the shooting. He said he was disappointed jurors didn’t charge Howie with a crime.

“Unreal. I preached and I told everything I knew and I can't believe they came up with that decision. Unreal, unreal. I'm sorry to hear that because I don't think it was justifiable homicide. I don't see how the grand jury could come up with that,” said Littleton, who has maintained from the beginning that he didn’t see Schreffler carrying an ice pick when he went to confront Howie.

“Out of the 18 jurors, probably 12 or 13 of them questioned me for about an hour, and they got into detail, too,” he said.

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