Entire jury dismissed in former Nocona banker’s trial linked to child pornography and missing child

Local News

MONTAGUE CO. (KFDX/KJTL) — A federal trial on child exploitation and pornography charges against former Nocona banker and rancher, Ricky Dale Howard,  had ended in a mistrial shortly after it started.

Howard was on trial in federal court in Fort Worth.  Jury selection for the trial started on Monday, July 19.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas says the mistrial order was the result of a medical issue with a juror.  She said additional information will be released shortly.

Ricky Dale Howard booking photo

Howard was being tried for sexual exploitation of a child, receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography. Multiple investigations led to this trial.

A special agent with the FBI said 300 images of child pornography on Howard’s laptop included images of missing person Caleb Diehl when he was a minor taken over a period of several years.

The agent said he also found four images showing Howard in sexual contact with the Diehl, who went missing in 2015.

While these federal charges came as a result of the investigation into the unsolved disappearance the missing person’s case remains open.

The trial was set following Howard’s release from state prison after serving a five-year sentence on 11 counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon.

Howard also had been convicted of federal bank fraud about 10 years earlier.

The gun sentence came a year after he was charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child in two separate cases after two men came forward and said they had been assaulted multiple times in the ’90s while working for Howard.

One was 12-years-old and the other 13-years-old at the time.

The then 13-year-old boy estimated he was assaulted about 500 times.

Howard was arrested on those charges in 2015 during an investigation of the disappearance of 18-year-old Caleb Diehl of Nocona, who worked part-time for Howard.

Authorities said Diehl was seen in a truck owned by Howard in March of 2015 when he disappeared, and the truck was seen on Howard’s property a few days later.

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