By Richard Weizel
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (Reuters) - An accused Connecticut serial killer appeared via closed-circuit television during a pretrial hearing on Wednesday, with the judge giving his lawyer until Dec. 10 to decide on whether to proceed directly to trial on six more murder charges.
William Devin Howell, already serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to killing a woman who disappeared in 2003, was charged last month with killing another five women and one man whose bodies were dumped in a wooded area behind a New Britain strip mall.
Howell's attorney, William Paetzold, asked a Superior Court judge for more time to determine whether to seek a hearing on whether the state has probable cause to detain his client or to proceed directly to trial. The hearing is a formality given that Paetzold is already imprisoned.
Judge Joan Alexander gave Paetzold until Dec. 10 to decide.
Howell was not in the courtroom, instead taking part via closed-circuit television from the MacDougall Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, Connecticut. A live image showed the bulky man sitting in a chair dressed in a gray prison jumpsuit.
Families of some of the victims expressed outrage after the hearing.
"Just seeing that coward, that monster looking so snide and smirking makes my blood boil with rage," said Sandra Martinez, whose 24-year-old sister, Joyvaline "Joy" Martinez, disappeared in October 2003. Police discovered the missing woman's remains in August 2013 and prosecutors have named her as one of Howell's victims.
"That smirk will be wiped off his face when he gets what he deserves," she said.
All seven victims disappeared in 2003 when Howell was working odd jobs in central Connecticut.
A hunter came upon the remains of the first three victims in 2007. The remains of the other four were found in April when authorities searched the site in New Britain, 12 miles southwest of Hartford, with an FBI dog trained to sniff out cadavers.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Will Dunham)