Local News

Witness Against Mortician Charged in Robbery

Posted August 17, 2007 12:46 p.m. EDT
Updated August 17, 2007 12:56 p.m. EDT

— A stripper who said a former Rocky Mount funeral home operator asked her to kill his wife shortly before the woman was murdered has been charged in a home invasion and robbery.

Ashley Elaine Brown, 24, of 1586 Crisp Pinetops Highway in Pinetops, is one of four people charged in a July 31 hold-up at an Edgecombe County residence, authorities said.

Brown, who used to work at Diamond Escorts in Rocky Mount, said she performed for Mark Bowling in a small apartment above his funeral home on as many as nine occasions.

During one of those visits, Brown said Bowling asked her whether she was willing to kill his wife, Julie, or if she knew someone who would. Brown testified to a grand jury that she thought Bowling, who built and owned a chain of mortuaries with his wife, was joking.

A few weeks after the encounter, 45-year-old Julie Bowling was shot to death in the garage of her Rocky Mount home. Mark Bowling and Rose Vincent have been charged with murder in the Dec. 8 slaying.

Authorities said Bowling and Vincent were having a romantic relationship and plotted to kill his wife. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Vincent, who they said carried out the plot while Mark Bowling was in Florida.

On July 31, the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Office received a phone tip about a robbery at 3165 Carr Farm Road. Two people brandished firearms and fired at least two shots before taking about $1,100 in cash, a cell phone and three wallets from the occupants of the home, authorities said.

No one inside the home was injured in the incident.

Jerry Mark Plasencio, 29, of 191 Summer Acre Road in Tarboro, and LeMichael Rashad Hill, 20, of 207 Sally Jenkins Street in Pinetops, were both charged with three counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and one count each of first-degree burglary and shooting into an occupied dwelling. Plasencio also was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon

Brown and Jessica Nicole Cherry, 28, of 1586 Crisp Pinetops Highway in Pinetops, were both charged with conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and aiding and abetting armed robbery in the case.