David Russell Holbrook stands trial in Okaloosa County, Florida for the first-degree murder of Melissa Howard. Prosecutors say he killed her way back on January 6, 2006. Prosecutors said she was found beaten, her throat cut. The case went cold for 10 years, but the defendant was arrested in Alabama in 2016, and extradited.
What we publicly know about their relationship comes from Jennifer Knudson. She was Howard’s best friend, according to Northwest Florida Daily News in a 2016 report. Knudson said Howard and her then-husband Brian were friends with her and her then-husband, Holbrook, and Holbrook’s then-wife. They all divorced around the same period of time, she said.
“It was a very tangled web,” she told the outlet. “It was like everybody split up and certain people were siding with the other.”
That tangled web led to a creepy moment with the defendant, she said. Knudson alleged that Holbrook knocked on Howard’s door out of nowhere. Both women were left unnerved by the random visit, she said. Knudson said she wasn’t surprised by the arrest.
Howard had won a fraught custody battle with her ex-husband at the time of her death, investigators said.
The defense filed a notice to offer alibi evidence last year. Holbook said he was at a birthday party at the time of the murder. He only left to bring his children to the home of their mother, looked for medication at a convenience store, found it at a Walmart, and returned to the party.
Investigators determined that Howard’s ex-husband was at dinner the night she died.
[Screengrab via Okaloosa County, Florida]