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Mortician pleads guilty to planning wife's slaying

Posted September 29, 2008

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— A Rocky Mount funeral-home owner was sentenced Monday to more than 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to plotting with his mistress to kill his wife two years ago.

Mark Bowling, the former owner of several Bowling Funeral Home operations in eastern North Carolina, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the Dec. 8, 2006, shooting death of Julie Bowling.

He was sentenced to 189 to 236 months in prison.

The plea ended a high-profile trial that began a week ago. The trial had been moved to Pitt County because the intense publicity around the case in Nash County reduced the chance of finding impartial jurors.

Bowling's mistress, Rose Vincent, pleaded guilty in February to the same charges and was planning to testify against him. She is serving at least 29 years in prison.

She admitted that she gunned down Julie Bowling in the garage of the Bowling home, but said Mark Bowling provided her with a map and instructions on how to carry out the crime while he was away on a scuba-diving trip.

Defense attorneys maintained last week that Vincent killed Julie Bowling on her own because she had a "fatal attraction" for Mark Bowling and had to get his wife out of the way so she could be with him.

Attorney Thomas Sallenger said Monday that the defense team determined Monday that Bowling would be best served with a plea deal.

"After looking at what we anticipated the rest of the evidence to be in the case, we thought that this resolution was the best for Mr. Bowling, and Mr. Bowling strongly agreed," Sallenger said. "It means he is stating in court that he's guilty, but beyond that, that was all he would say."

Nash County District Attorney Howard Boney declined to comment after the case, as did Julie Bowling's relatives.

"The family was satisfied, and that's what mattered here," Nash County Sheriff Dick Jenkins said.

Vincent's statement to investigators was read to the eight-woman, four-man jury on Friday. She told them Bowling offered her $50,000 to kill his wife and even threatened to kill himself if she didn't carry it out.

"I know I'm a big girl, but I wouldn't do it if it wasn't for him," she told investigators. "I was like his puppet."

Vincent was in court Monday, and prosecutors said she would have been the next witness if a plea agreement hadn't been reached.

During the plea hearing, Assistant Nash County District Attorney Keith Werner said a friend of Mark Bowling's also would have testified that Bowling handed him his cell phone before he went scuba diving and told him to answer it when it rang. After taking a call, the friend told Bowling to call the Nash County Sheriff's Office.

During a 911 call played for jurors last week, Bowling never asked how his wife died. Werner said Bowling's friend planned to testify that Bowling immediately called his funeral home and told people Julie Bowling had been shot.

61 Comments

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  • JustSayinToo Sep 30, 12:12 p.m.

    He will be out of jail before he's 60 to live the rest of his life!! Have someone murdered and only get 15 years, pull the trigger and only get 19?? Whats wrong with the court systems?? What does the victims family think about this?

  • buco Sep 30, 10:50 a.m.

    if he serves 1/3 of his time is he up for parole?

  • luvmyjackrascal Sep 30, 10:47 a.m.

    The family was satisfied? That is hard to believe!

  • ContinuityMan Sep 30, 10:29 a.m.

    Only 15 years, eh? He must have been a "person of interest", not a full suspect. Jason Young and Brad Cooper, are you paying attention? You can move your trials to Rocky Mount, cop a plea, and be out in less than 15 years...

  • jaxmom Sep 30, 10:00 a.m.

    I ain't never.... This is a classic case of beating the system he will be out of jail just in time to retire! This is why things like this happen!

  • ENC-43 Sep 30, 9:50 a.m.

    Congratulations Howard Boney, you've done it again! All of us from ENC are SO proud that you have never actually let a killer go in front of a jury to get a deserved punishment. This isn't the first time he's copped out, folks........not by a long shot.
    Get out of office Howard!!!!

  • Slip Kid Sep 30, 9:08 a.m.

    Ridiculous. And some of you continue to elect LAWYERS to public office.... ?!?!?!?!? And we wonder why the country is headed where it is.... the ride gets scarier every year.

  • cynsless1 Sep 29, 8:54 p.m.

    man this is bull!!!!!

  • Run_Forrest_Run Sep 29, 8:43 p.m.

    My condolences with all of Mark's friends who have been supportive of him this whole time. I guess he fooled them.

    I felt certain he did it (conspiracy). I hope he enjoys general population.........

  • wallhokievt94 Sep 29, 7:55 p.m.

    You are kidding me. He gets a slap on his wrist.

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