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Race car driver gets life for death.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

The daughter of murdered race car builder Mark Howard stood in court Monday and recalled that the killer - just days before he confessed and was arrested - put an arm around her, offered condolences and told her if there was anything he could do, just ask.

In court on Monday, 17-year-old April Howard did ask.

"Bring back my father," she said to Derek Allan Ofenham, the 22-year-old Springfield race car driver convicted last week of shooting Mark Howard to get him out of the way of an affair Ofenham was having with Howard's wife, Janet.

In a hearing lasting less than 10 minutes, Ofenham was given a life term without possibility of parole for at least 25 years, as required by Measure 11.

Asked by Lane County Circuit Judge Karsten Rasmussen if he had anything to say, Ofenham, standing in jail clothes with chains locked to his ankles and wrists, said nothing.

A few days after the Oct. 7 shooting, Ofenham confessed to Eugene police detectives that he went to Howard's Pro Auto Racing shop on North Seneca Road in Eugene early in the morning under the pretense of paying his bill.

Finding Howard alone, Ofenham said he told Howard he would get his checkbook from his vehicle. Instead, he came back with a .22-caliber rifle and shot Howard five times, leaving the 50-year-old mechanic, race consultant and former shop teacher dead on the floor.

Deputy Lane County District Attorney Bob Lane said detectives did "exemplary" work. Even though police had no physical evidence linking him to the crime, Ofenham confessed three days after the murder and showed police where he'd hidden the gun and ammunition.

A judge ruled the confession and evidence could be used in his trial, which had been scheduled to start today.

Ofenham told investigators that Janet Howard was not involved in the plot. She always denied taking part and police found no evidence she was involved, Lane said.

In a statement to the judge, Janet Howard thanked the friends and supporters who did not judge her for, as she said, things they didn't know anything about. She said her husband was "a great person to many people" and will be missed.

Hundreds of mourners gathered for a memorial at Cottage Grove Speedway a week after his killing.
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Title Annotation:Crime; Derek Allan Ofenham offers no response to his victim's daughter in court
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 18, 2006
Words:386
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