A Raleigh County murder case that was appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court recently began its oral arguments. The appeal involved a case where Christopher Wayne Bowling, 39 years old, was charged with first-degree murder after shooting his wife with a gun. Bowling’s attorney argued that the circuit court judge prejudiced his client by not permitting a change in location and by allowing the prosecutor to introduce evidence of Bowling’s previous bad acts.
At some point prior to the murder, Bowling’s wife told a friend that if she were shot in her sleep, the friend should let the police know that it was no accident. Bowling’s attorney argued that permitting such a statement was highly prejudicial, but justices on the Supreme Court appeared skeptical. Chief Justice Brent Benjamin noted that a lot of other evidence was involved in Bowling’s conviction, such as that Bowling did actually point a gun and shoot his wife in the face. He asked if Bowling’s wife’s statement were removed from evidence, whether that would have any noticeable effect on the outcome. Bowling’s attorney responded that the statement was “dirty laundry,” and should not have been entered because the only people present at the killing were Bowling and his wife.
Bowling’s attorney also argued that the jury received improper instructions, with no instruction for manslaughter. He claimed that the jury would not have reached the verdict of first-degree murder if it had the option of manslaughter. Bowling’s attorney further stated that the case should have received a jury consultant, but the request was overruled, and that he was not allowed to present evidence that the gun had been discharged accidentally, even though the crime lab showed issues with the gun.
Regardless of what the true facts are, or what the West Virginia Supreme Court decides, it at least demonstrates that Bowling’s attorney is taking steps to help his client. A strong criminal justice system depends upon criminal suspects or appellants getting competent representation. In fact, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution mandates that every criminal suspect have access to representation. Miranda rights, read in accordance with the Fifth Amendment, state that any criminal suspect without representation can have representation appointed by the government. The United States Supreme Court has extended the right to an attorney to the convicted criminal’s first appeal, which would be the case here — Bowling appealed a circuit court ruling directly to the West Virginia Supreme Court. Whether a criminal suspect or convicted criminal, it is best for the individual to have the most experienced West Virginia criminal defense attorney possible. He or she may be able to successfully argue against evidence being admitted or for a plea bargain to avoid a long prison term.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.