Local News

NC appeals court upholds ruling that convicted killer should be freed

Posted August 20, 2013
Updated April 15, 2014

Bobby Bowden

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a Superior Court judge's ruling that a Fayetteville man be freed more than 30 years after he was convicted of killing two people.

Last May, Judge Gregory Weeks ordered that Bobby E. Bowden, 64, be released from prison under North Carolina's old sentencing guidelines, which stated that a life sentence equated to 80 years in prison.

Bowden is serving two concurrent life sentences for the Aug. 7, 1975, shootings at a convenience store. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery on Dec. 15, 1975.

Before the state's Fair Sentencing Act, which took effect in 1994, the old prison guidelines allowed prisoners to earn credit toward their release for good behavior. Bowden's lawyers argued that he should be released with no conditions.

Barring any challenges to Tuesday's ruling, Bowden could be released by Sept. 9.


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  • wildpig777 Aug 21, 2013

    he'll be back--

  • Lightfoot3 Aug 21, 2013

    "I wonder what Nancy Grace would think about this..." - Coach K is still GREAT

    There goes my breakfast...

    But on the subject, letting him out is a good legal ruling. The law is the law, and if this is how they did it when he was sentenced then legally he should be released. That doesn't mean it's a good thing. That doesn't mean it's moral, or ethical. Personally I think he should have been swinging at the gallows soon after the conviction.

  • lwe1967 Aug 20, 2013

    Life is life! Are his victims coming back also?

  • Ex-Republican Aug 20, 2013

    what kind of financial compensation would this man receive? What penalties will be brought to bear on the prosecution, if they are still alive.

    Justice must be served, but a miscarriage of justice must be remedied if at all possible. This should make the prosecution think seriously about their actions.

  • Justic4All Aug 20, 2013

    What is really wrong is 1st degree murder during a hold up. 1st degree murder is when someone plots and plans to intentionally murder someone. This sounds like a robbery that didn't go smoothly.. But we must understand in 1975 NC was also neutering people deemed not stable so it was still an anything goes era.

  • cam7002 Aug 20, 2013

    johnnybgood, you being a "law and order" type, don't you reckon that a judge is supposed to rule based on the actual LAW that applies to a particular situation, instead of perhaps polling victims about what sort of law should apply or what sort of penalty they would prefer? God forbid the judge should actually interpret the law as it was written.

  • Igor Aug 20, 2013

    Amazing so many commenters do not understand what "concurrent" means...

    Unfortunately, the law is the law, and the dude has played the system as it was written back in the day. Hopefully he will be a good boy from now on...

  • cam7002 Aug 20, 2013

    chrisnrali, I would hardly say he "got away with murder". Whether you agree with him not doing a full 80 years or life or whatever, do you really think he "got away" with it? Sheesh.

  • madukesellis Aug 20, 2013

    I am sorry but this is just not right. The two people who were killed did not get a chance to live there lives!!! He should not be allowed out of prison at all.

  • Good Bye WRAL Aug 20, 2013

    Even if concurrent sentences, it's still 2x life, so 160 years. Was he such an exemplary prisoner that he earned 130 years credit? Really? And he was 30+ years old at the time of the crime, not an 'impressionable' teenager. He should stay in prison!

    Maybe we could save lots of money and just open wrist slapping stations and do away with the penal system altogether?