Local News

Mortician's Murder Trial Moved to Pitt County

Posted April 3, 2008 10:47 a.m. EDT

— Citing the effects of pre-trial publicity, a judge on Thursday ordered the trial of a Rocky Mount mortician in his wife's death to be held outside of Nash County.

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

Rose Vincent pleaded guilty in February to gunning down Julie Bowling in the Bowlings' garage, saying Mark Bowling had provided her with a map and instructions on how to carry out the crime while he was out of town. Vincent, who has agreed to testify against Bowling, said he had asked her to kill his wife so he and Vincent could be together.

The combination of a prominent businessman, a bloody crime, an illicit affair and allegations that Mark Bowling had strippers perform for him in his funeral homes have resulted in intense media coverage of the case in Rocky Mount.

Defense attorneys argued Thursday that Bowling couldn't receive a fair trial in Nash County because of the extensive publicity, and Assistant Nash County District Attorney Keith Werner agreed publicity about the case would create difficulties for prosecutors as well.

Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner, who in January issued a gag order in the case to limit public comments made by prosecutors and defense attorneys, ordered that the trial be moved to Pitt County and set a Sept. 22 trial date.