Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Ray Bowles

A Looming Death Sentence

On December 8, 1994, Gary Bowles was indicted on two counts. He was charged for the first-degree murder of Jay Hinton and of robbery. Wakefield stated that Gary pled guilty solely to the charge of first-degree murder. The honorable Jack M. Schemer presided over Garys sentencing at the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Duval County, Florida.

The proceedings moved swiftly. The states prosecution team, led by Assistant State Attorney Bernardo de la Rionda, argued that the murder of Jay was motivated by Garys drive for financial gain. Moreover, they argued that the crime was sexually motivated and inspired by his hate of homosexuals.          

The public defenders assigned to represent Gary were attorneys William White and Charles Cofer. They argued, among other things, that their client suffered from mental instability when he murdered Jay Hinton. His mental impairment was suggested to have been a result of the abuse Gary suffered during his early childhood, which was further exacerbated by his use of marijuana and alcohol on the night in question. They also argued that the murder was not sexually motivated, nor was it committed for financial gain.

Following the presentation of arguments, the jury hearing the case adjourned for a brief period before returning a verdict. The jury found Gary guilty of the first-degree murder and robbery of Jay Hinton. They recommended the death sentence by a vote of ten to two, which was agreed to by the court. It was suggested that Gary be executed by means of the electric chair.

Public defenders immediately filed a direct appeal with the Supreme Court of Florida. More than a half a dozen issues were argued in the appeal, one of which sited that the state failed to supply evidence proving that the murder was homosexually motivated. Moreover, it was also argued that the court erred in its finding that Gary had committed the murder for financial gain.

Florida Supreme Court building
Florida Supreme Court building

Upon review of the case, the Supreme Court of Florida found that there was no causal connection between Garys alleged hatred for homosexuals and Jays murder. They affirmed the conviction but overturned the death sentence. They then remanded the case to the state circuit court for new sentencing. According to Wakefields article, de la Rionda was disappointed by the courts decision to have Gary retried. He stated in the article that he, looked forward to trying him again and getting the death penalty again.

Once again, Circuit Judge Jack Schemer presided over the proceedings. During the resentencing trial, some of Garys prior felonies were included in the states case. The felonies included his convictions for sexual battery, robbery and the first-degree murders of Roberts and Morris, to which he had previously pled guilty.

Following intense arguments from both the prosecution and defense teams, the jury deliberated. On May 27, 1999, the jury returned its verdict after only one hour of deliberation. They unanimously found Gary Ray Bowles guilty and again suggested that he be sentenced to death in the electric chair.

Garys attorneys filed an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court. This time, 12 issues were raised in the defenses petition. Among the issues, Bowles claimed that the court erred in allowing the state to introduce the Roberts and Morris murder convictions being that they were not in the original sentencing proceedings. Moreover, they also argued that the court erred in its finding that the murder was committed in the course of robbery for financial gain.

On October 11, 2001, the Supreme Court of Florida ruled in favor of the circuit court. They were able to find no errors during the resentencing procedure, thus supporting its recommendation for the death sentence. Frustrated by the decision, Garys lawyers then filed another petition, this time to the United States Supreme Court. However, the petition was denied in June 2002.

Union Correctional Institute, Florida
Union Correctional Institute, Florida

To date, Gary continues to petition the state courts. He hopes that one day he will be granted a new sentencing hearing. He is currently imprisoned at the Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Florida where he awaits execution for three counts of first-degree murder. There he is expected to remain until his death.

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