- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A 32-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison, suspended to 40 years, on Wednesday for his role in a 2013 home invasion in St. Inigoes that resulted in the death of Robert Lee McDowney Sr., 37.
The St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney’s Office sought life in prison without parole for Andre Lionel Bowman of Laurel, who was convicted of first-degree felony murder, first-degree burglary, armed robbery and the use of a handgun in committing a felony.
St. Mary’s Circuit Judge David W. Densford also added other sentences to run concurrently, and said he may reconsider the sentence in five years if Bowman behaves well in prison.
“We will see how you are in the [Maryland] Division of Corrections,” Densford said. “I want to see how you do.”
Based on the presentence investigation report that described him as a loving son and a father of two children, “I think there’s hope for Mr. Bowman,” the judge said. “Not this month, not this year, not this decade.”
Last summer, James Kenneth Clay Jr., 36, of Baltimore was convicted in a jury trial of first-degree felony murder, a burglary-conspiracy offense and a handgun charge or the raid of McDowney’s home. A judge sentenced Clay to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 26 consecutive years.
“Mr. Bowman was not the enzyme in the chemistry,” Densford said. “He didn’t start it and he didn’t finish it.” However, during the robbery, “he was the most violent person, absent the gun,” he said.
Given his chance to address the judge before the sentence was passed down, Bowman said, “I apologize to my family. It’s sad. It’s still life. I’m never coming home. I’m sticking with the truth. The truth will set you free. I know I didn’t take part in no robbery. I didn’t kill nobody. A sin is a sin. I leave this whole situation in God’s hands.
“I can’t speak on a crime I didn’t see. I didn’t see with my own eyes,” Bowman said. He turned toward his relatives present and said, “The main thing are my kids. You feel me?”
“Andre didn’t shoot anyone,” said defense attorney Franklin Olmstead. “He didn’t have a gun. He didn’t know a gun would be used. He’s not an angel, your honor. He has a minor criminal record,” including carrying a handgun.
Richard Fritz (R), state’s attorney for St. Mary’s County, said while Bowman would say he didn’t pull the trigger, “if you’re in for a dime, you’re in for a dollar.
“This case is especially troubling. This young man and another young man ... was certainly involved in invading the sanctity and security of one’s home at nighttime. At night, one is considered to be most vulnerable when they’re in their home,” and it is a much greater crime than a break-in during the day, Fritz said.
Olmstead initially filed a motion to delay sentencing to have DNA samples taken from the crime scene further tested against a database. “The state crime lab found DNA from Mr. Bowman only on one thing — his cellphone. There was no indication his DNA was found anywhere in the house where the crime took place,” he said. “If they do anything, they exonerate him.”
The other DNA samples are inconclusive and insufficient, Fritz said. “It’s impossible to do; it can’t be entered in. The jury heard the case ... the jury heard the evidence. The jury heard the testimony. The jury convicted Mr. Bowman,” he said.
Densford said, “There is nothing that points away from Mr. Bowman,” in the DNA evidence. “At the heart of this case is eyewitness testimony. This is an eyewitness case,” Densford said.
At Clay’s trial, McDowney’s girlfriend identified Clay as one of the two armed intruders who came into the residence demanding money, and a masked man found $700 in a bedroom along with crack cocaine. Jurors were told Bowman’s cellphone was found at the scene. A third man, Joseph William Medley III of Great Mills, was acquitted in November of conspiracy to commit an armed robbery and the jury could not reach an unanimous verdict on charges of murder, burglary and robbery.