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Jay man sentenced to 30 days for illegal possession of firearm

FARMINGTON - A court case that began with an altercation over the repossession of a vehicle in Jay and led to a local man pleading guilty to illegally possessing a firearm concluded in Franklin County Superior Court Tuesday morning, with the defendant sentenced to 30 days in jail on a partially-suspended sentence.

William Bowie, 57 of Jay, pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm, a Class C felony, as part of an arranged plea back on Dec. 19, 2017. That plea, which was made a few hours into a jury trial, resulted in felony counts of reckless conduct and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon being dismissed by the state. A single charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, leveled against Bowie's co-defendant, wife Jacqueline Bowie, was also dismissed as part of that arrangement.

On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Josh Robbins and attorney Leonard Sharon, representing William Bowie, appeared in court before Justice Robert Mullen to argue sentencing on the illegal possession of a firearm charge. As noted by Mullen, Bowie was only being sentenced in relation to the firearm felony, as opposed to the previously-dismissed charges that relate to the events of the morning of Sept. 21, 2016.

A tow truck operator removing a vehicle belonging to the Bowies, a Chrysler 300, as part of a repossession of a bank-owned vehicle, had told police that a gun had been fired at his truck that morning. The operator reported seeing a muzzle flash and called 9-1-1. William Bowie was alleged to have fired the shots, then handed the gun to Jacqueline Bowie and left in the vehicle. Later, Jay Police Chief Richard Caton IV was able to contact William Bowie via cell phone, at which point he was taken into custody near the residence.

A number of firearms were seized from the Bowie residence, Robbins told the court, and he indicated that investigators had discovered evidence of other guns, not found when the home was later searched with a warrant. This included a soft case and magazines associated with an AR-15 .233 caliber rifle. A .45 caliber handgun, believed to be the one involved in the incident, was found and seized, as were other weapons.

Robbins said that Bowie had a felony conviction from 1990 for reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and was prohibited from owning or having firearms in his home. It appeared that Bowie had successfully acquired both hunting permits and a concealed weapon permit while residing in Michigan, Robbins said, and it wasn't clear why that state had approved those requests for Bowie. Robbins requested a partially-suspended, five-year sentence, with six months to be served without suspension and two years of probation.

Sharon called on Jacqueline Bowie and two of the Bowie children, ages 17 and 19, to address the court, with those family members all describing how they had come to own the various weapons taken from the home. Jacqueline Bowie said that the .45 hand gun fired that evening had been her weapon. The aforementioned AR-15 had belonged to a family friend that lived in Michigan and the case had apparently been left behind, all of the Bowies said.

William Bowie said that he had been under the belief that he could own firearms five years after the 1990 felony conviction, a contention he said had been further supported by Michigan approving him for a concealed weapons permit. He said that he had been protecting his family when he had fired at Bubier's truck and that he had left the scene with the Chrysler 300 because several thousand dollars-worth of lineman equipment had been stored in the trunk.

Mullen said that he had weighed the seriousness of the crime against mitigating factors such as the 20-plus year interval between Bowie's two felonies, and the fact that he was the sole provider for his family. He sentenced Bowie to 24 months in jail, with all but 30 days of that sentence suspended, followed by two years of probation. Conditions of that probation are to include no use or possession of firearms, with random search for same, and no contact with Bubier.

"Whatever confusion or misinformation there may have been [regarding Bowie's ability to possess firearms], that ends today," Mullen told Bowie.

Another conviction relating to firearms would carry a more significant penalty, the judge said, noting that Bowie could not reside at a location at which firearms were present.

The .45 handgun involved in the incident will be forfeited to the state, with the other weapons returned to their respective owners. A $500 fine will be assessed to William Bowie.

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2 Responses »

  1. C. However, a person is not justified in using deadly force as provided in paragraph A if:
    (b) Surrender property to a person asserting a colorable claim of right thereto; or…/17-A/title17-Asec108.html

    8. "Deadly force" means physical force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or that a person knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious bodily injury. Except as provided in section 101, subsection 5, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly discharging a firearm in the direction of another person or at a moving vehicle constitutes deadly force.…/…/17-A/title17-Asec2.html

  2. Paul, The other charges were dropped, because there wasn't any evidence that the tow truck had been fired at. The driver claims to have seen a muzzle flash but heard no report and there was no damage to the truck. A .45 is very loud, a jet at 100ft is 140 decibels, A .45 at 30ft is 180 decibels. The driver was out of his truck and would have heard the shot. And there were no reports of shots fired by anybody else that day in that area.