Charges in Westside shooting upgraded to murder

Suspect had been arrested, charged with aggravated battery

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Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Victor Howell

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After a 36-year-old man shot in the chest early Sunday morning on the Westside died, charges against the man police had in custody were upgraded to murder.

Joseph Francis Baker died several days after the shooting.

Victor Howell, 48, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery in connection with the incident. On Friday, police said that murder charges were filed against Howell.

Two witnesses told police the men were arguing over a drug deal at a home at 6303 Catoma Street when Howell went to a storage shed in the back of the property and returned with an assault rifle, according to a police report.

The witnesses said Howell pointed the rifle at the victim and shot him, according to the report.

Detectives say the men did not know each other.

Howell has denied shooting the victim, police said. He remains held in the Duval County jail without bond.

Howell is a convicted felon. He's been adjudicated three times, the last in November for dealing in stolen property.

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