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Former Sampson Deputy Charged with Attempted Murder in Violent Home Invasion

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CLINTON — A former Sampson County sheriff's deputy is in jail, charged with breaking the law while he was on the force.

In October 1999, Paul Howell lost his job when he was arrested on drug trafficking charges. Now the 31-year-old former deputy sheriff has been linked to a violent home invasion and charged with attempted murder.

"It is extremely embarrassing and extremely sad, because you have an officer who took an oath to protect the citizens, the very ones that he robbed and shot," says district attorney Dewey Hudson.

"I heard some shot gun blasts about five feet from the door and I got hit in my left leg really bad," says Billy Frank Jackson, who was shot while defending his parent's Midway home from invaders on December 29, 1998.

Thanks to his efforts, Cortelle and Mary Jackson survived the attack. Their son was awarded for his heroism by state lawmakers.

Leonard Mason has also been charged in the attack, but it is Howell's arrest that has baffled everyone in the community, including his own attorney.

"He does not seen to be characteristic of the type of young man that I have found him to be. He has had a problem with some drugs in the past, but it is very shocking to me at this point," says defense attorney Gene Thompson.

Howell made his first court appearance Thursday. He will be back in court on May 12.

Hudson says he believes that had Billy Frank Jackson not intervened, the family would have been killed.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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