Judge: Man to face accessory charge in death of Tabernash hitchhiker
July 28, 2010
ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) – A man accused of lying to authorities investigating the slaying of a Colorado hitchhiker will face a felony charge in district court, a district judge has ruled.
Circuit Judge Dan Forgey of Rock Springs on Friday ordered Tommy Bowman, 39, bound over to Third District Court.
Bowman faces a charge of being an accessory after the fact in the death of Ben Bradley, 29, of Tabernash. Bradley was headed to Jackson in June 2006 when he disappeared. His body was found north of Rock Springs. Authorities say he was stabbed to death.
Authorities allege that Bowman tried to hinder the investigation into Bradley’s death. A conviction could carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
Eric John Conn of Rock Springs is charged with first-degree murder in Bradley’s death.
Sweetwater County Attorney Brett Johnson said Wednesday that Conn faces a November trial before District Judge Jere Ryckman of Green River.
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Johnson said no date has been set for Bowman’s arraignment in District Court.
Bowman has given media interviews in the past denying any involvement in the killing.
In a sworn statement, Lt. Robert Mizel of the Sweetwater County sheriff’s office stated that Bowman contacted county authorities in October 2006, before Bradley’s body had been found.
Bowman told investigators he found a backpack floating in Flaming Gorge Reservoir, south of Rock Springs that contained paperwork belonging to Bradley, snowboard boots and other belongings.
However, Mizel stated the backpack’s contents showed no signs of being in the water. Mizel also said investigators didn’t believe Bowman’s statement that he found the backpack on the lake’s western side because winds generally push floating objects to the eastern shore.
John Prokos, chief deputy prosecuting attorney for the Sweetwater county attorney’s office, presented evidence at Friday’s hearing that an analysis of the backpack found that it lacked microscopic organisms that tend to collect on items that have been submerged in water.
Bowman’s lawyer, Bobby Pineda, argued that there are other factors that could explain the lack of the organisms, called diatoms.
“How much time is necessary for the bag to be in the water before diatoms attach? What about temperature? Was there a waterproofing sprayed on the bag? What are the effects of the backpack being rinsed or cleaned to the diatoms?” Pineda asked.
In his closing argument, Prokos said, “Bowman sent law enforcement on a wild-goose chase. He concealed physical evidence.”
Pineda countered that no one has been convicted in Bradley’s death. “No principal actor is convicted, so there is no person to assist,” he said. “And he is the only person who brought forward evidence.”