Prichard man asks to take back guilty plea to pharmacy burglaries, robberies

Reginald Howell.
Reginald Howell.(Mobile County Metro Jail)
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A Prichard man who was about to be sentenced for a string of pharmacy burglaries and robberies told a federal judge on Thursday that he wants to take back his guilty plea.

Reginald Jejuan Howell, 30, pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute drugs, robbery and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

A judge asked lawyers for both sides to submit written arguments on the issue and set a hearing for June 9. If the judge denies the request, Howell will be sentenced that day.

Judges rarely allow defendants to change their minds after they plead guilty. During plea hearings, judges carefully explain to defendants the rights they have and the consequences of admitting guilt.

Defense attorney Tim Fleming declined to discuss his client’s grounds for withdrawing the plan. But he noted that any guilty plea must be “knowing, voluntary and freely” made.

“If something impacts any of those factors, it probably should be withdrawn,” he told FOX10 News.

Law enforcement officers arrested Howell in February 2018. He admitted that he recruited others to steal money and drugs from several pharmacies. The stores hit by the group included:

  • A Walmart store on Dawes Road October 2016. A lookout called Howell and tipped him off when employees were changing out the cash drawers, according to the defendant’s written plea agreement. Howell and the lookout, each armed with a handgun, robbed an employee.
  • A Walgreens on Moffett Road in Semmes in May 2017. Howell and his co-conspirators burglarized the store and parked a getaway car behind a church on Snow Road. Investigators founded large amounts of prescription drugs and clothing with Howell’s DNA.
  • A Walgreens on Cottage Hill Road in July 2017. The defendants tried unsuccessfully to break into the building. They left and then broke into a Walgreens on Government Street that same day. The plea agreement indicates the defendants used a sledgehammer to gain entry and then put drugs into plastic trash bags and buckets. Police later found a 9mm Ruger gun and the drugs from a vehicle that Howell had wrecked.
  • A Walgreens on Cottage Hill Road in January 2018. Howell and two others used a crowbar to break through the pharmacy’s exterior door near where the employees were working. The workers ran from the front to back of the store. According to the plea agreement, the robbers held three employees at gunpoint.


Download the FOX10 Weather App. Get life-saving severe weather warnings and alerts for your location no matter where you are. Available free in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.