Defense witnesses testified in a murder trial in Darke County Common Pleas Court. Judge Jonathan P. Hein presided, with Darke County Prosecutor R. Kelly Ormsby and Bowman’s attorney Alex Pendl present.
Richard M. Bowman, 59, of New Weston, stood trial today on one count of aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, for allegedly strangling his wife Teresa E. Bowman, 60, to death on April 24, 2020. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
Authorities were called to the Bowman’s home, on Disher Road, on the day of the incident, where they found Teresa Bowman dead in a barn on the property. A forensic exam later determined she died from strangulation.
The state alleged that Bowman planned his wife’s murder in order to be with his mistress and collect Bowman’s life insurance policies.
While Bowman’s defense claimed after Bowman arrived home from running errands, he found his wife dead in the barn, called 911 and performed CPR while he waited for paramedics. Pendl told the jury in his opening statement that law enforcement didn’t pursue other suspects, such as Amber Scarlet Straight, the mother of Richard and Teresa’s grandchild, with the same aggression they did Bowman.
Defense witnesses called on Friday included former Darke County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Neth, forensic scientist at the Miami Valley Crime Lab Rachel Newton, Darke County Detective Rodney Baker, criminal intelligence analyst at the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Beth Dailey, Scarlett Amber Strait, the defendant’s granddaughter Maria Isabella Gellegos and the defendant’s daughter Cindy Bowman.
At Friday’s hearing, the jury heard from Det. Baker on his investigation into Strait, as a possible suspect in Teresa’s death.
Strait has a child with Casey Bowman, the son of Richard and Teresa, and testified that she had tension with the Bowman family over the years. In the past, she’s been known to have wished death on Teresa, or tell her to “go die.”
Det. Baker told the jury that he spoke with Strait regarding previous arguments she had with Teresa Bowman, specifically when Bowman took her to court in the past for custody of Strait’s daughter, Bowman’s granddaughter.
He testified that while Strait didn’t like the Bowman family in general, recently she told him she had been getting along with Teresa.
“She told me that her and Teresa had an argument, and I believe it was in 2018, over the custody of the daughter,” he said. “But she also told me that they were getting along fine now. In fact about two weeks prior to this [Teresa’s death], Teresa had brought over some Easter presents, as well as Christmas presents for Teresa’s granddaughter. She also brought presents for Amber and Scarlett, for her her and Amber’s mother.”
Det. Baker told the jury that while she was an initial suspect, he eventually ruled her out.
“Initally, yes, [she was a suspect],” Baker said. “But when we followed the evidence, it leads away from Amber and goes to Richard.”
Lastly, Scarlet Gross, Strait’s mother, testified for the state that her daughter was asleep on the morning of the murder.
“She was sleeping on the couch,” she said. “Sometimes it’s upstairs in the bedroom and sometimes it’s on the couch. I was having to wake her up. She was asleep on the couch. If she wasn’t awake, I’d wake her up because I have to take diabetes medicine and it’s getting close to that time I have to take it so I have to be awake anyways. If she wasn’t up, I would wake her up.”
Court will reconvene at 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning. You can stream Darke County Common Pleas Court hearings on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/commonpleas