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Dalton man faces life sentence in machete slaying of mother

James Francis Howard

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. - A Dalton man accused of killing his mother with a machete has been indicted by a grand jury with a first-degree premeditated murder charge.

James Francis Howard, 27, is accused of using an 18-inch machete to inflict head and hand injuries on 68-year-old Barbara Howard in April. She later died on Mother's Day at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.

The grand jury indictment was handed down Thursday in Otter Tail County District Court. Arraignment on the first-degree murder charge and a second-degree murder charge is set for Monday.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Howard faces life in prison with no possibility of parole.

A judge earlier found that Howard was competent to stand trial.

Howard told medics he was aiming to end his mother's suffering from cancer and diabetes, court records say.

In Minnesota, a grand jury indictment is required for a first-degree murder charge.

Howard remains in the Ot-ter Tail County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond without con-ditions or $500,000 bond with conditions.