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Gaston Man With History Of DWIs Now Faces Murder Charge

A Gaston County man accused of his fourth DWI now faces a murder charge in connection to the death of a 17-year-old girl Sunday night. Gaston County prosecutors added the second-degree murder charge Monday afternoon against 28-year-old Howard Pasour of Bessemer City. The North Carolina Highway Patrol say Pasour was intoxicated when he crossed the center line on the Dallas-Cherryville Highway. He crashed into a vehicle in which Laura Elizabeth Fortenberry was a passenger. She died at the scene. She had just graduated from North Gaston High school. Her two friends were airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center. "He has been charged with second-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, habitual DWI, driving while a license revoked, and reckless driving," said Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell. He's served 37 days in jail for three DWIs since 2002. One of those DWIs occurred in May of 2008 less than two weeks after a previous DWI arrest. Those last two DWI's are what prompted the jail sentence. Belle says Pasour is on probabtion for those convictions, but expects it to be revoked. "We are filing the papers for violation of his probation on the two charges, the two DWI convictions, we're seeking that those sentences be activated." But state and Gaston County court records show that Passour has a lengthy criminal history in addition to the DWIs. He's faced multiple drug and theft charges. He plea-bargained in many of those cases. They resulted in minor sentences such as probation, fines and a mandatory drug treatment class. Gaston County records also show that Pasour has been cited with 27 traffic violations since 2002.