PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The pain is still raw for Jamel Howell’s family two years after he was shot and killed at his Portsmouth home. His stepson is accused of pulling the trigger.
“He was my baby, my best friend; I can’t express that enough,” said Howell’s mother, Debra Jones.
The grief still weighs heavily on Howell’s 14-year-old daughter, Jakhia Howell.
“We all miss him so much and hoping we all could get through this together,” she said.
Jakhia said she was close with her stepbrother, Jahquan Jones, who now faces charges for murder.
“I felt betrayed because my dad really loved him as his stepson and made him feel like that was his actual son,” she said.
With the Portsmouth courthouse as a backdrop, on the eve of Jones’ pre-trial hearing, Jamel's family is calling for justice.
Debra is still trying to process why the then-19-year-old, who she said her son loved as his own, would want to take his life.
“God is going to handle that,” said Debra. “That’s between him and God.”
Family and friends came together Tuesday night praying and remembering the 34-year-old as a devoted son and father of three kids and two stepchildren. They say he was full of life.
“My dad was a very nice person,” Jakhia said. “He cared for people.”
Jamel’s mother said her son was always smiling.
“The way they’re going to remember him is with a smile,” said Debra. “That can’t be taken away.”
As Jamel’s family tries to heal, they say they won’t stop fighting until Jahquan is behind bars.
“All I want to say is that we’re going to get justice soon for him,” said Jakhia.
According to court records, Jahquan is currently out on bail. He’s expected to go before a judge Wednesday, with the trial set for later this week.
During Jahquan's court hearing Wednesday, felony charges that included first-degree murder and the use of a firearm were withdrawn.