Victim not armed when he was shot, testimony shows

Published 11:25 am Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tim Harmon had a history of domestic violence but was not armed when his girlfriend’s son took the first shot at him with a .243-caliber hunting rifle, prosecutors said Wednesday in the third day of Jeremy Blake Bowlin’s murder trial.

They said Harmon never returned fire on Bowlin, now 20, but defense attorneys contend Bowlin was fed up with abuse by Harmon and feared for his life after being beaten.

The jury will decide today if they believe Bowlin acted in self-defense or committed murder when he fired a second shot that struck Harmon in the heart. If convicted, Bowlin faces life in prison.

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Harmon was the live-in boyfriend of Christine Bowlin, 38, and she and the two men shared the home at 3400 U.S. 80 Lot 4 where the shooting occurred shortly before 4 a.m. Jan. 6, 2011.

The defense rested at about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon without calling any witnesses, relying only on Jeremy Bowlin’s taped statements and cross-examination of neighbors, deputies and experts called by the state.

Harmon had been arrested three times for domestic violence between 2005 and 2011, defense attorney J. Matthew Eichelberger said.

In taped statements played for the jury, Jeremy Bowlin said he was tired of the violence and when he was awakened by being punched in the face by Harmon, he grabbed the rifle.

“I did want to kill him because I was tired of him beating on my mom and beating on me. It’s been going on for seven years,” Jeremy Bowlin said.

Harmon was not armed when Jeremy Bowlin took his first shot, which went trough the door of the trailer and a couch before lodging in a window unit air conditioner, according to the statement.

Evidence showed that Harmon had abrasions on the back of his hands and Jeremy Bowlin was injured. Jeremy Bowlin had three run-ins with Warren County deputies the morning before the shooting and was restrained twice.

“There was a struggle in the living room, but that wasn’t the only struggle that night,” said Warren County investigator Chris Satcher.

A 30.06 rile was found next to Harmon’s body and four shell casings from the rifle were found in and around the home. No gunshot residue was found on samples taken from Harmon. Gunshot residue from a rifle would be difficult to detect on Harmon because of where the residue expels from the gun, Eichelberger said.

During a taped statement, Jeremy Bowlin said Harmon pointed the gun at him but never fired.

“The fact that you found shell casings is really irrelevant,” District Attorney Ricky Smith said.

Neighbors testified Tuesday that Harmon and Jeremy Bowlin were shooting rifles at the trailer on New Year’s Eve.

The jury was to begin deliberations this morning following closing arguments set for 9 a.m.