Local News

Mortician Seeks to Close Murder Case Hearings, Records

Posted August 8, 2007 10:27 a.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2007 9:48 p.m. EDT

— Attorneys for a former Rocky Mount funeral home owner charged with having his wife killed want to exclude the public from pre-trial hearings and seal all records in the case.

Mark Bowling is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Julie. She was found shot to death Dec. 8 inside the couple's garage.

Investigators said Rose Vincent pulled the trigger but that Bowling helped her plan the slaying. Bowling and Vincent were in a romantic relationship, according to authorities.

Defense attorneys Thomas Sallenger and Thomas Moore II cited intense publicity in asking for limits on public disclosure about the case.

"There is ... a serious and imminent threat to the fair administration of justice in this case," the attorneys said in their motion. "There is no alternative short of those sought in this motion to preserve (the) defendant's right to a fair trial by an impartial jury and his right to a reliable determination of punishment."

The motion asks that all pre-trial hearings be closed to the media and public, that a gag order be issued to prevent attorneys, witnesses and others connected with the case from commenting publicly about it, that all court records in the case be sealed until at least the start of the trial and that cameras be barred from the trial.

“It would be inappropriate and contrary to the motion to comment. The case should only be tried in court based on evidence presented,” Sallenger told WRAL.

Moore called the motion standard for a first-degree murder case.

"It will be up to the judge to decide, and so far, we haven’t had any hearings on any motions,” he said.

The next pre-trial hearing will likely be the week of Sept. 10, said Nash County Assistant District Attorney Keith Werner, who declined to comment on the motion.

In the past couple of months, Bowling's funeral homes have been sold, as have the couple's home and most of their possessions.

Bowling is being held at Central Prison in Raleigh, while Vincent is in the Nash County Jail. Prosecutors announced in February that they would seek the death penalty against Vincent.