Ralph Bowling III was bound over to circuit court for trial on nine counts involving the death of his estranged wife Cheyenne Bowling in the early morning hours of June 11. District Court Judge Michael Schipper set the Aug. 16 at 8:15 a.m. for Bowling’s next court appearance.
Bowling faces trial on counts of open murder, attempted murder, home invasion, 1st degree, second degree arson, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent and four counts of felony firearm violations during the commission of the crimes.
At the second part of the preliminary hearing, continued from June 28, forensic pathologist Patrick Hansma from Sparrow Hospital’s Forensic Pathology Department, testified that Cheyenne Bowling was shot in the left side of the face with a shotgun at close range. He determined the distance, from three inches to two feet, based on stippling, commonly called powder burns, around the wound.
Hansma said the gun likely was a .410 gauge shotgun.
Cheyenne Bowling’s body had several bruises and contusions from before her death in various stages of healing and newer abrasions on her head, neck and jaw. With the gunshot, her death would have been immediate, he said.
Barry County Sheriff’s Office Detective Janette Maki interviewed Bowling the morning after the death. He told her he had been suspicious for six months that his wife was in an “inappropriate relationship” with co-worker Nathan Farrell, and put a tracking app on her phone that let him know where she was and also read her text messages.
Cheyenne left him and moved in with Melissa and Tim Wymer, her mother and step-father, when she discovered Bowling had put a camera covering her movements in her bedroom.
Bowling told Maki he followed Farrell and Cheyenne to the Wymer home on Bird Road home the night of the murder, and confronted them with a .410 shotgun. Bowling said he was upset, and angry and shot Farrell in the neck. Farrell fled and was later hospitalized.
Bowling changed his account of the night’s events and how Cheyenne died several times, “when I confronted him with inconsistencies,” Maki said. When Cheyenne fled the house, he found her where her body was later found between a vehicle and an outbuilding. Bowling first said they struggled for the gun, then later said when he went outside, he had his gun at shoulder level, “she stopped, and he discharged the shotgun,” Maki said. //
After the shooting, he went to his house on Coats Grove Road, intending to commit suicide, poured gasoline on the carpet and set it on fire. Changing his mind, he jumped out of a window and drove to Clarksville, then to Ionia County where he threw the shotgun in the woods alongside the road. The gun was recovered by police. Several hours later, he turned himself in to Barry Central Dispatch and was taken to Barry County Jail.
Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt asked Schipper to bind Bowling over to circuit court for trial. The murder was premeditated, he had six months to think about it, she said. Bowling clearly shot to kill Farrell and had to reload his gun to shoot Cheyenne, she added.
“It appears there were some injuries before she died. She was in the house, he chased her outside and he shot her in the face.”
Schipper said he found there was probable cause to believe that the nine counts were committed and they were committed by the defendant, “a pathetic man who murdered a defenseless woman.”
If convicted, open murder carries a life sentence, attempted murder can be life or any term of years, home invasion is 20 years, arson, a possible 20 years, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, five years and felony gun charges an additional two years for each count. Bowling’s $1 million bond continues.