Bowen murder trial begins on Feb. 7
The main evidence in the case against him is DNA obtained from the decomposed bones of the victim. But then again, the victim’s mother says she still receives phone calls from her allegedly deceased son.
Then, just before the trial is set to begin in June 2006, the inmate’s court-appointed public defender tells the court the defendant is suffering from liver failure and has only two weeks to live. The judge vacates the trial date, and the case seemingly comes to end.
Fast forward a year and a half or so, and the whole shebang reloads again.
The middle-aged inmate, Wayne Lee Bowen, 49, has not succumbed to liver disease and once again faces the murder charge. A 10-day jury trial is scheduled to begin in the Lassen County Superior Court at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Bob Burns, Lassen County’s district attorney, declined to comment on the case because his office is not involved in Bowen’s current prosecution and did not participate in the 2006 case either.
Burns said the California Attorney General’s office is handling the case and referred the newspaper to the prosecutor, Maggie Krell.
Krell did not return calls by deadline to comment for this story.
Bowen is charged with the July 1988 murder of Kevin Behm, then 22, of New York. Bowen and Behm allegedly were involved in a number of burglaries in the Reno area in July 1988 and later had a falling out or conflict.
Bowen allegedly took Behm to an isolated location on Eagle Lake Road, about a one-quarter mile north of the current Forest Service building and shot him twice in the back of the head. Deer hunters found the remains just east of the road and reported them to the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, 1988, according to a press release issued at the time. The press release said the remains were severely decomposed, and investigators had to study the scene and evidence to identify the body.
At the time the last trial date was vacated, a number of issues remained, including Bowen’s competency to assist in his own defense, the question of whether such a long delay in bringing the case to trial makes it impossible for Bowen to get a fair trial, the report the victim is still alive and what testimony the experts will give regarding the DNA evidence. All that remains is a portion of the victim’s skull that was not cremated by the state in 1990 when the rest of the victim’s body was burned.
For the 2006 proceeding, Bowen was brought to Susanville from state prison in Vacaville, where he was serving a sentence for solicitation for murder.
In 2006, David Marcus, Bowen’s then public defender, said the attorney general’s office was pursuing prosecution simply because Bowen was to be released from prison soon.
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