GOSHEN — Matt Howard said he had plans for the night of Sept. 7, 2012. After he got off work, he and a friend were going to a bar.
According to Howard’s testimony in Elkhart Circuit Court Wednesday, those plans changed.
In September 2012, Howard worked with Todd Stewart and Mark Miller in the Dunlap tattoo shop owned by Miller. Howard said that on the evening of Sept. 7, he was at the business when Stewart shot Miller.
Stewart is on trial this week at the Goshen courthouse for Miller’s murder.
Elkhart County prosecutors allege that after killing Miller, Stewart stuffed his body head-first into a 55-gallon barrel and dumped the barrel in the St. Joseph River. Men working to clear the river of logs found the sealed barrel containing Miller’s body near the Six Span Bridge Sept. 20, 2012.
In his testimony Wednesday, Howard indicated that prior to the slaying, the relationship between Stewart and Miller had changed.
“It seemed kind of standoffish, not so friendly anymore,” he said. During later cross-examination by the defense, Howard said, “Todd had been making remarks in preceding weeks that he wanted to kill Mark.”
Howard said that on the night of Sept. 7, he went behind the business to smoke. Miller was out back as well, having a phone conversation. Finished with his cigarette, Howard re-entered the tattoo shop through a sliding glass door at the rear of the building.
“Todd was standing in the doorway at that time,” Howard testified, later saying he didn’t recall whether or not he saw Stewart with a gun.
According to his testimony, Howard was inside the shop when he heard “a loud slapping noise.”
“Did you know what it was?” Chief Deputy Prosecutor Vicki Becker asked.
“I had a good idea,” said Howard, who later said he owns guns.