Bowen guilty of murder
The jury found that sometime during July 1988, Bowen killed Kevin Behm, then 22, of New York, by shooting him twice in the back of the head in an isolated area off Eagle Lake Road, a short distance from where it meets Highway 36.
Bowen sat quietly as the clerk read the verdict and visiting Lassen County Superior Court Judge John T. Ball polled the jurors individually. All 12 jurors answered affirmatively when asked about the guilty verdict.
Almost immediately after the court read the verdict and polled the jurors, Bowen was taken into custody by officers from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department and led from the Department 3 courtroom in the basement of the Lassen County Courthouse.
Sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 13, depending upon a possible post-trial defense motion and a subsequent response from the prosecutor.
Defense attorney Jordan Funk may file a brief by Wednesday, Feb. 27, and prosecutor Maggie Krell said she could respond by Friday, Feb. 29. If necessary, Ball will hold a hearing on the briefs at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 6.
Ball said if the attorneys need more time, the date for the hearing and the sentencing may be reset as necessary.
Krell said it was important to get any post-trial matters resolved because members of the victim’s family may travel a long distance to attend the sentencing on March 13.
Krell, from the California Attorney General’s Office, said she was pleased with verdict.
“The jury did the right thing,” Krell said at the conclusion of the trial. “It’s not easy to convict a defendant of first-degree murder. I think the defendant had a fair trial, and the jury found he committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Justice prevailed.”
She said every crime is special and every victim is different, but this case was especially tragic for the Behm family because they didn’t know what happened to him, and they didn’t know he’d been murdered right away.
“It’s every mother’s worst nightmare,” Krell said. “This young man was gunned down and thrown away because the defendant believed he couldn’t trust him. The 12 jurors cared about what happened to the victim.”
Bowen and Behm were allegedly involved in a number of burglaries in the Reno area and had a falling out. According to testimony during the trial, the two men were members of a burglary ring operating in Nevada that included several other members.
Bowen testified his primary role was to fence the stolen items — mostly guns and jewelry — through an acquaintance of his who ran an apparently legitimate jewelry business.
After Bowen discovered Behm had made some long-distance phone calls to his family in New York from a room the ring shared at a Reno motel and was planning to go home, Bowen allegedly drove him to an isolated location on Eagle Lake Road about a 1/4-mile north of the current Forest Service building walked him into the forest, shot him twice in the back of the head and left the body for the scavengers.
Deer hunters found the scattered remains and clothing and reported them to the sheriff’s department at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, 1988. By then, the remains were severely decomposed and investigators had to study the scene and evidence to identify the body.
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