CHICAGO
08/18/2011 02:58 pm ET Updated Oct 18, 2011

D'Andre Howard, Triple-Murder Suspect, Claims Self Defense In Police Interrogation

A man accused in the 2009 murders of three members of his fiancee's family, stabbed to death in their suburban Chicago home, apparently told police he killed the family while defending himself.

In court on Wednesday, portions of D'Andre Howard's police interrogation were played for the first time. They revealed a strange and disturbing look at the accused killer, as he claimed self-defense in the stabbings.

According to investigators, Howard, now 23, had fought on the night of April 17, 2009 with his fiancee, Amanda Engelhardt. He then allegedly followed her back to her family's Hoffman Estates home, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

There, he is accused of cowing the family with a decorative sword and a butcher knife, disabling the phone lines, and binding members of the Engelhardt family with tape, according to TribLocal. At some point, a struggle over the knife ensued, in which Howard suffered a minor stab wound. Amanda's sister Laura, father Alan, and grandmother Marlene Gacek were killed. Her mother, Shelly, was badly injured but survived; Amanda herself, and her and Howard's eight-month-old daughter, were spared harm.

But Howard, in a statement that at times bordered on incoherence, suggested a different story.

The Daily Herald reports that Howard repeatedly insisted that he was "not in custody" or "not under arrest." He asked several times to see a lawyer, although he also acknowledged his right to remain silent and continued to speak.

As for the stabbing, he described it as a "stupid knife fight." Earlier in the tape, he says he was just trying to show the family some "tricks" with the sword and knife; later, he describes how he stabbed himself to attempt suicide.

Throughout, though, he insists that he was defending himself, saying that the family had attacked him with the knife. He also frequently calls out for Amanda and their daughter.

Cook County Judge Ellen Mandeltort is watching the tapes to determine if they should be admissible at Howard's trial, TribLocal reports. His public defender is arguing that Howard didn't understand he was under arrest, and that police coerced the statements from him.

A further hearing will be held on September 26.