The jury was out less than two hours deciding the guilt of Ralph Bowling III, on trial for the murder of his estranged wife, Cheyenne Bowling, and attempted murder in the shooting of Nathan Farrell.
Bowling was found guilty of a total of nine counts, including 1st degree felony murder, assault with intent to commit murder, 1st degree home invasion, 2nd degree arson and five felony gun charges.
Bowling, 41, from Woodland, will be sentenced June 28 at 8:30 a.m. The mandatory sentence is life in prison without parole.
The nearly two-week trial was held in Barry County Circuit Court with Judge Amy McDowell presiding. Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor-Pratt made the case for the state. Attorney James Goulooze represented Bowling.
After the verdict, Nakfoor-Pratt said she was” shocked, but really happy,” that the jury reached a verdict so soon. “Justice was done,” she said. A telling factor that the jury likely took into account was the premeditation argument she gave in her summation, she said.
Nakfoor-Pratt argued that Bowling had many chances change his mind during the events leading up to his wife’s murder, but did not. In the early morning hours of June 11 last year Bowling went to the home of his wife’s mother and stepfather on Bird Road where Cheyenne and Farrell were watching television.
He watched them for a time, walked back to his truck he had parked a half mile away, drove back to his house on Coats Grove Road to get his 410 shotgun and extra ammunition and returned. He broke into the house, confronted them and shot Farrell, chased Cheyenne into the yard, and shot her, killing her instantly. Nakfoor-Pratt said he “was a man on a mission” who intended to shoot his wife
“It was a crime of passion,” Goulooze said. Bowling didn’t want to hurt anyone, but he got more and more desperate when his wife left him and told him the marriage was “done.”
Bowling was so distraught that he had lost control of his life, what he did was the last ditch effort of a desperate man trying to get his wife to come back to him to be a family again. Goulooze said the gun went off when the two struggled.
During testimony, the jury heard that after he was shot in the neck, Farrell ran out of a back door, found help from a neighbor and was taken to a hospital.
After the shootings, Bowling drove to his home and set the residence on fire, planning suicide, but changed his mind and left the house. Several hours later, after throwing the shotgun alongside a road in Ionia County, he turned himself in to authorities.