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Defense: 'Fatal attraction' led to slaying of mortician's wife

Posted September 24, 2008

— A woman desperate for a romantic relationship with a Rocky Mount funeral home owner killed his wife two years ago on her own, a defense attorney told jurors Wednesday as the man's murder trial began.

Mark Bowling, the former owner of several Bowling Funeral Home operations in eastern North Carolina, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the Dec. 8, 2006, shooting death of his wife, Julie Bowling.

The trial was moved to Pitt County because the intense publicity around the case in Nash County made it difficult to find impartial jurors. About a dozen relatives of Julie Bowling and several of Mark Bowling's family members attended the first day of testimony.

Rose Vincent, Bowling's former mistress, pleaded guilty in February to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and has agreed to testify against him.

Vincent, who is serving at least 29 years in prison, admitted that she gunned down Julie Bowling in the garage of the Bowling home but said Mark Bowling had provided her with a map and instructions on how to carry out the crime while he was away on a scuba-diving trip. She told investigators that she and Mark Bowling were having an affair and that he asked her to kill his wife so they could be together.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Thomas Moore said Vincent killed Julie Bowling on her own because she couldn't be without Mark Bowling.

A medical condition made it difficult for Mark and Julie Bowling to be intimate, Moore said, so Mark Bowling had several affairs and used escort services. But he refused to leave his wife for Vincent, and she couldn't handle that, he said.

"Rose wanted to be Julie. (The slaying) was not Mark's idea; it was Rose's idea," Moore said. "This was a fatal attraction, and ... Rose and Rose only killed Julie."

Assistant Nash County District Attorney Keith Werner told the eight-woman, four-man jury that Bowling and Vincent had had an off-and-on romantic relationship for years and that they agreed in early 2006 "to eliminate Julie by killing her."

Bowling tried to get Vincent to kill his wife several times, but she told him she couldn't go through with it, Werner said. It was only after he continued to implore her that she finally carried out the crime, he said.

"Mark told her to pull trigger until it stopped," Werner said.

Linda Gardner, who worked with Julie Bowling, said she went to check on her co-worker on Dec. 8, 2006, because she hadn't shown up for work. Mark Bowling had called his wife's work that morning, saying he couldn't reach his wife, she said.

"I thought she was just unconscious when I first saw her," Gardner said of finding the body in the garage.

A few weeks earlier, Julie Bowling told Gardner and other co-workers that she thought her husband was having her followed, Gardner testified. She told the group that people should suspect Mark Bowling if anything ever happened to her, Gardner said.

"Nobody really commented when she said that," she testified.

Jurors looked over 13 photos of the crime scene as Nash County Medical Examiner Amy Nash testified about Julie Bowling's slaying. Julie Bowling already had her name badge on and was ready for work at the funeral home when she was shot several times in the chest and abdomen, Nash said.

Bowling sobbed as the photos were passed around.

Earlier Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner denied some defense motions to limit evidence presented by prosecutors.

Defense attorneys argued that DNA evidence found on a chair in the Bowling home be thrown out, saying Mark Bowling's DNA would be expected in his home.

"What does it prove or disprove?" defense attorney Thomas Sallenger asked.

Werner said Bowling admitted to having sex with Vincent in the chair but that tests showed DNA recovered from the chair didn't match Vincent or Julie Bowling.

Sallenger and Moore also asked that stripper Ashley Brown not be allowed to testify, saying she wasn't a credible witness because of her prior criminal record.

Investigators have said Bowling had strippers perform for him in his funeral homes, and Brown said he had asked her to kill his wife.

Werner said that many witnesses in the case have questionable backgrounds, but that doesn't mean they aren't credible.


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  • dukebbfan Sep 25, 2008

    My guess is that the Vincent woman probably had low self esteem issues and here comes this guy with money showing her alot of attention and she fill into his trap. He knew what he was doing. There is no man or amt of money worth me doing something that would take me away from my kids.

  • Ladybug1 Sep 25, 2008

    The "Fatal Attraction" comment is actually humorous. What on earth could she have been "Fatally Attracted" to? Look at him, he isn't even the least bit handsome. He's slimy looking. It had to be his ability to lay it on thick with lie after lie. He lead Rose to believe that with Julie gone, he would have all the money and they would live a good life together. She was the working class poor and loved Mark. She was really gullible and he was and still is a low life. Hope he gets Life without parole. Let him rot in jail.

  • haggis basher Sep 25, 2008

    Its a reasonable defence. Vincents word is worth nothing as she could/would/should be lying to save her own neck and Strippers are not now known for their honesty (the Duke case)so I hope they have more and better evidence than them to convict him.........its not unknown for women to kill their lovers or hoped to be lovers Wifes without the knowledge of the Husband.

  • NCTeacher4327 Sep 25, 2008

    ncjake2000--Well said!

    The only reason he cried when they showed Mrs. Bowling's pictures is because he got caught.

  • TStills Sep 25, 2008

    bomanicous - thats a little insulting to Hatfield, isnt it!?

  • bomanicous Sep 24, 2008

    I think they accidentally put a picture of james hatfield (Metallica) instead of rose vincent.

  • ncjake2000 Sep 24, 2008

    To those of you that didn't know Mark, your opinion of Mark is very wrong. As someone like others that knew him, he was capable of this. He was a liar, cheat, and very unprofessional at times. He used his place of business to have parties and women while families loved one lay in their coffins. Mark was a crude person. Hopefully Julie's family will see this man get what he deserves. He isn't insane, he wasn't the "fatal attraction" of this crime. He was the "fatal" planner of this senseless act of greed. He let his status lure Rose into believing if Julie was gone, they could be together. All Rose was to Mark was the person who would do whatever it took to be rid of Julie. Evil is as evil does. Now pay the price for taking a good woman's life. May Julie's family find peace in knowing their daughter's killers are behind bars and can't hurt anyone else. A plea bargin shortened the time Rose should have gotten, lets pray Mark pay the ultament price (death or life without parol)

  • ncjake2000 Sep 24, 2008

    He is guilty as Rose is. This guy used his status to get Rose to do the dirty work cause he didn't want to be the fall guy. He had this planned out to the tee and was bragging long in advance of Dec. As a person who knew Mark, knows he's evil and used his status as "moneyman" to lure people into believing he was everything he wasn't. Prayers are that the trueth comes out about how evil and wrong this guy is and was. He isn't innocent of anything but being who he was. A liar, cheat, and con man. His pitiful act of being the innocent fatal attraction plea is garbage. He is guilty and he is evil.

  • Seeminglyopposed Sep 24, 2008

    People are getting more time in jail for cruelty to animals than they are for killing other people. And don't let yourself be caught with any drugs, you may as well say good-bye for more than the 29 years this lady is getting.

  • TStills Sep 24, 2008

    angora2 - not sure what u mean? i only saw 1 woman in those photos...