DELTA – A Delta man is being held without bond at the Delta County jail on pending charges of attempted second-degree murder after lying to police about shooting his girlfriend in the head.
According to his arrest affidavit, Thomas W. Howe Jr., 44, told police that his girlfriend, Dina Navarette, 49, had “put the gun on the top of her head and shot herself” while he was yelling at her for cooking a turkey on Christmas Eve.
It didn’t take long for his story to unravel.
A few days after undergoing surgery at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Navarette had trouble speaking but could write and shake her head ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Her psychiatrist at the hospital contacted the Delta Sheriff’s office and said Navarette had written down Howe’s name as the shooter and indicated that it was not an accident.
Navarette’s surgeon also stated that the direction of the bullet, which entered her forehead near the hairline before traveling about two inches into her skull, was not consistent with most suicide attempts.
Howe, a Delta resident, was arrested on Dec. 30 and is also facing charges of first-degree assault, felony menacing, reckless endangerment, and domestic violence.
The shooting took place at a home belonging to Howe’s parents on Redlands Mesa Road near Hotchkiss, where the couple was house sitting, according to Howe.
Both Howe and Navarette were tested for alcohol. They both had been “getting drunk” before the shooting, said Howe, according to the arrest affadavit. He claimed the gun belonged to his father that he found it on top of the refrigerator. As a convicted felon, Howe is not allowed to own firearms.
After the 911 call, deputies arrived at the home just before 2 a.m. The door was cracked open a few inches and deputies said Howe, 44, was “on his knees in the kitchen in his underwear” and Navarette was lying on the floor. Howe was putting pressure on the wound to Navarette’s head with one hand and held his cell phone with the other. A .22 caliber handgun was on the floor nearby.
Deputies spoke to Howe about his “history of domestic abuse issues” according to the arrest affidavit. Howe responded that it was “more of a drinking problem that escalates,” according to the report. Both Howe and Navarette are unemployed, the report states.
According to the Delta Sheriff’s office, Howe has criminal history that includes resisting arrest, trespassing, disturbing the peace, fraud, crimes against person, felony possession of dangerous drugs, DUI, driving under revocation, parole violations, assault, and domestic violence.