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Defense rests case after Bowman testimony

Man, 75, on trial in 1967 murder of Sylvania Twp. girl

  • bowman-defense-testifying

    Robert Bowman testifies Wednesday in his trial for murdering 14-year-old Eileen Adams in 1967.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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  • robert-bowman-john-weglian-spiderman

    Robert Bowman, right, examines a Spider-man doll as Assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Weglian, left, cross-examines him.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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bowman-defense-testifying

Robert Bowman testifies Wednesday in his trial for murdering 14-year-old Eileen Adams in 1967.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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The prosecution and the state have both rested their case in the retrial of a man accused of killing a Sylvania Township teen more than 43 years ago, and are expected to hand the case over to a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury Thursday.

Robert Bowman, 75, returned to the witness stand Wednesday morning for a second day of questioning during his retrial for murder in the first degree. He is accused in the slaying of Miss Adams, 14, whose body was discovered in January, 1968, in rural Monroe County.

When questioned directly about whether he denied smashing in the skull of Eileen Adams or driving a nail into the back of her head, Robert Bowman testified in court Wednesday, “That’s right.”

The testimony portion of the nearly three-week trial ended Wednesday afternoon. Thursday, jurors are expected to hear closing arguments and then begin deliberations.

During a total of about three and a half hours of testimony spread over two days, Bowman was questioned about his life, his marriage, and the accusations that he had abducted and killed Ms. Adams.

Sometimes raising his voice in anger and other times expressing frustration that he was stopped from answering questions as completely as he would like, Bowman countered earlier testimony by multiple detectives that he never denied nor admitted to involvement in Miss Adams’ death. He testified that he did not refuse to discuss the case, but instead, “I said I didn’t know anything about it.”

When questioned by his attorney, Pete Rost, about physical evidence presented during the trial, specifically about semen found on Miss Adams’ underwear that produced a partial DNA profile in which Bowman could not be excluded, Bowman responded, “Anything’s possible.”

“I can’t account for how my semen would be in her underwear or anywhere on her body,” he said.

Jurors heard from a total of 20 witnesses over eight days of testimony and viewed about 125 state exhibits and about 35 defense exhibits. In addition to Bowman, the defense presented three other witnesses, including the man who found Miss Adams’ body.

According to earlier testimony presented by the state, Miss Adams disappeared Dec. 18, 1967, and was found 43 days later. Her wrists were bound, her ankles were tied to a cord attached to her neck, and a nail had been driven into the back of her skull.

The case went cold until new information implicated Bowman about 14 years later.

Bowman’s ex-wife, Margaret, testified last week that she approached Toledo police in 1981 and told them that she had found a young girl tied up in her basement some time around Christmas, 1967. She further testified that her then-husband, Bowman, had told her that he was forced to kill the young captive now that she had been discovered.

The information led investigators to Florida in 1982 to interview Bowman, where he was living in what they described as a filthy, abandoned restaurant. The retired detectives testified that they found Bowman surrounded by many items, including a Spider-Man doll with its wrists and ankles tied and a needle protruding from its forehead and the head of a “Ken doll” in which a nail was driven into the back of the skull.

Assistant Prosecutor John Weglian confronted Bowman with several statements made to detectives when he was interviewed in both 1982 and again in 2008 by cold-case detectives. In particular, Mr. Weglian questioned Bowman about the Spider-Man doll taken from his residence in 1982.

Bowman acknowledged during questioning, that he told investigators in 2008 that the doll was there as a “joke” because he knew that he was going to be questioned.

Mr. Weglian pointed out that a retired Florida detective testified earlier in the trial that he saw the doll in Bowman’s place of residence before Bowman knew Toledo detectives intended to question him.

Mr. Weglian also questioned Bowman about the DNA statistics involving the semen found on the victim.

DNA analysts testified earlier that testing was done on items of Miss Adams’ clothing in both 2006 – when the cold case was reopened – and 2008. The witnesses testified that when comparing Bowman’s DNA to a semen stain found in the victim’s underwear, the statistical possibility of finding it in the population was 1 in 4,153,000.

robert-bowman-john-weglian-spiderman

Robert Bowman, right, examines a Spider-man doll as Assistant Lucas County prosecutor John Weglian, left, cross-examines him.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
Enlarge | Buy This Image

In a statistic generated by a DNA laboratory called by the defense to testify, the number was 1 in 4.4 million.

Mr. Weglian noted that the population in Ohio in 1970 was 10.6 million people, of which Bowman acknowledged about half would be women and many others would be children.

Often during his testimony, Bowman referred to his ex-wife as a liar. He also explained how he became involved in “lumonics,” which he described as art created with light and acrylic, and how it “unblocked” his mind, allowing him to remember several past lives. He further testified that he began working on “abstract art pieces” from discarded items he found.

As rebuttal to some of Bowman’s statements, assistant prosecutors recalled retired Detectives Dan Brimmer and Peter Navarre to the stand as well as Detective Bart Beavers, the lead investigator in the case.

Judge Gene Zmuda told jurors to anticipate closing arguments and instructions of law this morning before they would then begin to deliberate.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.

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