Brother of Viola Bowman, convicted of murder in Clay County, says she will appeal

·2 min read

A woman found guilty of murdering her husband in Clay County intends to appeal her conviction.

A jury on Monday found Viola Bowman guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action. She faces a mandatory life sentence on the murder charge. The jury recommended 10 years on the armed criminal action offense.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 10.

The 60-year-old woman was accused of fatally shooting her husband Albert “Rusty” Bowman on Nov. 7, 2012.

She was arrested in January 2015 and awaited trial in jail for more than six-and-a-half years.

Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel White said justice was delayed, not denied.

“Unfortunately, not all cases are able to be tried quickly due to the way the court systems work,” White said in a statement on Tuesday. “In addition this case presented unprecedented hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Prosecutors said Bowman shot her husband twice and staged the scene to make it look like a break in had occurred.

As the verdict was announced, one of Bowman’s supporter gasped and cried in the courtroom. Afterward, her attorney, Horton Lance, consoled Bowman as she quietly sobbed.

Relatives of the victim declined to comment following the verdict.

Bowman’s brother Andrew Taylor attended the trial and maintains that she is innocent.

“I still feel as I felt before — that my sister hadn’t done that,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Taylor said there were no winners in this situation, especially for his three nieces.

A formal appeal is expected to be filed after Bowman is sentenced in November, Taylor said.

Last year, Bowman rejected a plea deal that downgraded the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter. The deal included a five-year sentence with credit for time served, meaning Bowman could have been released had she accepted the offer.

But she told a judge, “I did not do this.”

In November 2019, Bowman’s case was highlighted in a Star investigation that found the state public defenders system routinely fails poor defendants by providing inadequate representation that falls short of constitutional guarantees. Her case had been delayed dozens of times as public defenders struggled with overwhelming caseloads.

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