Bowman may face death penalty
The capital murder case of Wallace Bowman Jr., will be tried in Fort
Worth, but District Attorney Jack McGaughey is still weighing his decision
on whether to seek the death penalty.
In a pretrial hearing this week, the 97th District Court handled a series
of primarily procedural motions in half an hour. The change of venue
motion filed by defense attorney Joetta Keene, was granted by District
Judge Roger Towery, moving the case to Fort Worth. The motion cited
excessive publicity that would not allow for an impartial jury.
The trial is set to begin March 11 with jury selection anticipated to take
three to four weeks, and the trial to take a similar amount of time. All
pretrial actions will take place in Montague.
Bowman is charged with the murder of Melinda Daffern, a Scotland store
clerk who he is accused of taking at gunpoint from her store on Aug. 15,
2008 and later killing. Her body was found near Sunset. He also is charged
with the deaths of James and Karen France, whose bodies were found in
their burned home outside Bowie.
Bowman arrived in court handcuffed and shackled in jail black and whites.
Members of Melinda Daffern's family, including her husband, daughter and
son, sat on the front row of the courtroom watching the proceedings.
McGaughey has said he plans to present the Daffern case to the jury, while
the other cases could be used in the punishment phase.
The DA has not made a formal filing to seek the death penalty, but he said
Thursday "that is where its heading."
"We are preparing for a death-penalty case at this time, but I want to
make sure there is nothing as a matter of law to come up. I have to make
the decision about 30 days before trial," McGaughey said.
Keene filed a motion to throw out statements made by Bowman, indicating
they may have been given involuntarily. Anticipating possible testimony on
this motion, Judge Towery swore in 6 witnesses, all law enforcement
officers. However, the defense did not call for testimony.
Nicole Habersang, assistant attorney general criminal prosecutions
division, co-counsel with McGaughey, told the judge they do not find any
evidence the statements were involuntary or that Bowman was denied his
rights. Towery said he would reserve ruling on this motion until the
statements were offered into evidence, because there was no testimony on
which to make a ruling of fact.
Towery said he expects jurors will be selected from a general panel that
is called in Tarrant County. The defense has submitted a tentative juror
questionnaire to the DA, and Towery said it also be submitted to him for
While the trial will be in Tarrant County, Montague County will bear the
costs, which will include accommodations for the state and defense,
witnesses, as well as travel expenses.
(source: Times Record News)