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Bowman v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi

October 3, 2019


          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/07/2017







         ¶1. A jury convicted Chad Bowman of one count of burglary of a dwelling-a hunting camp where his wife had stayed during the early part of Mississippi's bowhunting season. On appeal, Bowman argues the State failed to sufficiently prove the hunting camp was, at the time of the alleged burglary, a dwelling house. Bowman does not dispute that, under Mississippi law, a hunting camp may be considered a dwelling house. Instead, Bowman argues the hunting camp was not Emily Anne's dwelling house, as charged in the indictment, because she neither owned the hunting camp-Southland Tube did-nor did she intend the hunting camp to be her permanent residence. After review, we find the State sufficiently proved Emily Anne was residing in the hunting camp when Bowman broke in. That is all Mississippi law required. And the indictment's allegation that the hunting camp was owned by Southland Tube was mere surplusage, which the State still proved beyond a reasonable doubt.[1]

         ¶2. We affirm Bowman's conviction. But because of the apparent confusion over the length of time Bowman must serve, we remand the case for resentencing.

         Background Facts and Procedural History

         ¶3. In Mississippi, bowhunting season for deer begins in October. And Emily Anne Chenoweth (formerly Emily Anne Bowman) spent many days in October 2014 at the Southland Plantation hunting camp to bowhunt. During this time, she also helped her mother renovate and update the camp. The hunting camp also served as Emily Anne's escape from a rapidly deteriorating and abusive relationship with her husband, Chad Bowman. In the early morning hours of October 18, 2014, Bowman broke into the hunting camp and attacked Emily Anne and the camp's caretaker, Wayne Stewart, Jr. This episode ended with Bowman being charged with burglary, aggravated assault, and attempted murder. Bowman was convicted of burglary and acquitted of the remaining charges.

         I. Emily Anne and Bowman's Marriage

         ¶4. Emily Anne and Bowman married in February 2010 and lived in Canton, Mississippi. Shortly after their marriage, Bowman began "self-medicating" with marijuana, prescription drugs, and alcohol to "control his anger." But according to Emily Anne, Bowman remained angry and controlling, particularly about the couple's finances. In October 2014, Bowman's outbursts over money and other issues began to escalate and turned physical. Emily Anne testified Bowman's drug and alcohol use increased. And she started spending more time at the hunting camp to hunt and to get away from Bowman.

         ¶5. Southland Plantation is a hunting camp outside Macon in Noxubee County, Mississippi, owned by Southland Tube, Inc. Because Emily Anne's father, David Chenoweth, worked for Southland Tube, she had permission to use the camp. She just had to give advance notice either to her father or to Wayne.

         ¶6. Emily Anne stayed at the camp from October 1 to October 5. When she returned to Canton, Bowman was upset she had only worked Monday and Tuesday that week and had been paid only for those days. On October 7, 2014, Bowman became enraged at Emily Anne about money and grabbed her to keep her from leaving. Bowman bruised her arms and legs in that encounter. The next day at work, she told her coworker Anna Fumbanks, who took pictures of the bruises. Emily Anne rejected Fumbanks's advice to call the police. Emily Anne finished the work week and returned to the camp the weekend of October 11 and 12.

         ¶7. Emily Anne planned to return to the hunting camp the evening of October 17, intending to stay through October 19. As Emily Anne tells it, that Friday night, she told Bowman they should see a marriage counselor and suggested he get medication to balance him out. If he did not, she would leave him. Bowman reacted by screaming at her. He warned her that if she left, she would not be coming back. When she tried to leave in her car, he reached in and pulled her out. She fell to the concrete and Bowman dragged her on the pavement until she broke free and escaped back to her car. She then left for the hunting camp. When she arrived, she found the camp locked. So she went to wake Wayne. Wayne followed her to the camp house and unlocked it for her. And the two sat on the couch and talked about the episode in Canton earlier that night. Eventually, they fell asleep next to each other on the couch.

         II. October 18, 2014

         A. Bowman's Version

         ¶8. According to Bowman, the night of October 17, he and Emily Anne had dinner. They talked about her going hunting that weekend and discussed finances. He testified their conversation was not pleasant, but there was no yelling or screaming. Emily Anne later packed up her bow, a hunting bag, and a bag of clothes, then headed to the hunting camp. The two also exchanged text messages and talked on the phone before she arrived in Macon.

         ¶9. Bowman claims that when he woke at 3:00 a.m. on October 18, he checked his phone and saw a text message from Emily Anne saying she was at the hunting camp. Bowman testified he tried to call Emily Anne six times to "just talk to her and make sure she made it okay." But she did not answer. So Bowman decided to get in his car around 3:15 a.m. and drive to Macon. He arrived around 5:00 to 5:15 a.m.

         ¶10. Bowman testified he saw Emily Anne's car and Wayne's truck in the driveway. He got out and went to the front door. He saw that the television was on. He also saw an empty wine bottle with two wine glasses on the coffee table. And he noticed there were no pillows on the couch. Since the front door was locked, he walked to the back of the camp and entered through an unlocked sliding glass door. The door to the master bedroom upstairs was closed. So he walked upstairs, opened the bedroom door, and flipped on the lights. When he pulled the bedcovers off, he saw Emily Anne and Wayne in bed together, naked. Both Emily Anne and Wayne jumped out of bed. And Bowman punched Wayne in the jaw. ¶11. After recovering from the punch, Wayne rushed him. Bowman grabbed Wayne by the neck and choked him until he fell to the ground. Bowman then went downstairs. He claimed he phoned David Chenoweth to say he had caught Emily Anne and Wayne in bed. When Wayne started coming downstairs, Bowman hung up. Wayne rushed Bowman, so he hit Wayne again. As Bowman left the house, Wayne put a gun to his head. Bowman turned to face Wayne, said a few words, and then headed for his car. Wayne got in his truck and left. Emily Anne got in her car and followed Bowman to a nearby gas station before returning to the hunting camp.

         B. Emily Anne's Version

         ¶12. Both Emily Anne and Wayne tell a different story. They claim they were asleep on the couch and they both woke when Bowman entered the camp house. Bowman immediately pulled Wayne over the back of the couch and began choking him. As Wayne blacked out, Bowman told Emily Anne that he had killed Wayne. Bowman then turned to Emily Anne and began choking her. But Wayne regained consciousness. So Bowman released Emily Anne and dragged Wayne over to the dining table. Bowman grabbed a wooden chair and swung it at Wayne. But the chair caught the underside of the staircase. Bowman then dropped the chair and grabbed a shower rod off the table. He beat Wayne with the rod on his arms, hands, and head. He then turned to Emily Anne. But before Bowman could strike Emily Anne with the rod, Wayne grabbed his pistol from the coffee table. Wayne pointed the gun at Bowman and told him to get out of the camp house, which he did. At that point, Emily Anne told Wayne to leave and said that she could handle Bowman.

         ¶13. As Emily Anne and Wayne walked out of the camp house, they saw Bowman near Emily Anne's car. Wayne got in his truck and was backing out when Bowman approached his passenger window and pointed a pistol he had taken from Emily Anne's car at Wayne. Emily Anne jumped on Bowman's back. Bowman managed to pull her off. He then pulled her head up by her ponytail, said "die bitch," and pulled the trigger. The gun clicked but did not fire. He then released Emily Anne. Afterwards, both Emily Anne and Wayne saw Bowman sitting down, pointing the gun underneath his chin.

         ¶14. Bowman eventually stood up and asked Emily Anne to follow him to a gas station. All three left the hunting camp. Emily Anne followed Bowman to the gas station but did not stop. Instead, she continued driving and found an open field where she called her father and cried for a long time.

         III. Trial

         ¶15. The hunting-camp events formed the basis of Bowman's indictment and trial for attempted murder, burglary, and aggravated assault. After each side presented its case, the State and defense discussed jury instructions with the court, eventually agreeing on most instructions. The judge then instructed the jury. After deliberating, the jury found Bowman guilty of burglary but not guilty of attempted murder or aggravated assault. The judge ordered a presentencing investigation. He considered the victim's impact statement, and heard mitigation testimony from Bowman's children, his father, his first wife, and Bowman himself. The judge sentenced Bowman to a term of twenty years in prison, with ten years suspended and five years of post-release supervision. Bowman filed a motion for a new trial, but the judge denied his motion. Bowman appealed.


         ¶16. Bowman claims: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support a burglary conviction; (2) the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence; (3) the trial court failed to give two jury instructions; (4) the judge admitted improper Rule 404(b) evidence; and (5) his sentence was based on misapplied or misunderstood law. After review, we find Bowman's burglary conviction is supported by the sufficiency and weight of the evidence. We find Bowman waived any challenge to his newly proposed jury instructions by not requesting them at trial. We also find the trial judge did not abuse his discretion by admitting the assault-based evidence under Rule 404(b) of the Mississippi Rules of Evidence. As to Bowman's prior alcohol and drug use, even if that evidence was wrongly admitted, any error was at most harmless. We do, however, find the judge apparently misconstrued the sentencing law, which has recently been clarified by this Court. We affirm Bowman's conviction for burglary but remand the case for resentencing.

         I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         ¶17. Bowman first argues the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the essential elements of dwelling-house burglary.

         A. Dwelling House

         ¶18. Burglary of a dwelling house is a distinct statutory crime from burglary of a non-dwelling house. Compare Miss. Code Ann. § 97-17-23 (Rev. 2014) (burglary of a dwelling house) with Miss. Code Ann. § 97-17-33 (Rev. 2014) (burglary of other buildings). See also Woods v. State, 186 Miss. 463, 191 So. 283, 284 (1939). So the fact the hunting camp was, at the time of the alleged burglary, a dwelling house was an essential element of ...

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