Judge Denies Motions to Suppress Evidence Ahead of Murder Trial

Parties discussed multiple motions in preparation for when a defendant charged with murder in September 2014 finally goes on trial.

Mark Bowser is charged with first-degree murder while armed for his alleged role in the death of 39-year-old Tracy Womack. On Sept. 20, 2014, Womack was found on the bedroom floor of a housing complex on the 4600 block of Benning Road, SE. Her clothes were cut off and she was suffering from multiple stab wounds, according to court documents. Bowser, 42, was arrested the next day and has been detained ever since.

During the most recent hearing for this case on Feb. 1, the lead detective was brought into court to provide supplemental information regarding several eyewitness statements.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Dorsey Jones challenged the detective on several details of the witness’s statements. A witness who was present at the time of the crime was under the influence of PCP when he saw the accused in the victim’s apartment. Three other witnesses who were outside of the apartment directly after the incident were under the influence of alcohol. They were also shown a single picture to confirm the defendant’s identity, rather than a line-up.

Several of the eyewitnesses who identified Bowser at the crime had also seen him during a grand jury proceeding prior to identification. The defense argued that this causes an immediate bias creating an unfair relation to Bowser and the criminal image since he was in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit at the time. Jones also pointed out that the lead detective had not seen Bowser since 2017, arguing that his identification of Bowser could not withstand a jury’s scrutiny.

The defense also asked to suppress evidence that before the homicide Womack allegedly became angry at Bowser for not having sex with him and touched her inappropriately while she was under the influence. 

The defense argued this evidence had no pertinence to the trial. The prosecutor countered this, saying it showed that the victim was someone Bowser knew and that the homicide was not a random attack. 

Finally, the defense wanted to exclude a notice barring Bowser from the housing complex the victim was found in. Once again, the prosecutor said this was a relevant submission to show that the defendant has been in the area before.  

Once the examination of the detective had concluded Judge Milton Lee began in deciding key issues that had been brought up by Jones. Judge Lee said he has a responsibility to weigh the subjectivity of the issues brought up in the case against the relevance that they can influence a decision from the jury. He denied the motions to suppress any of the evidence dealing with eye witness testimony, leaving that up to jury interpretation once they hear both sides of the arguments.  

The prosecutor also wanted to make it clear that they would be bringing in two expert witnesses who would give testimony dealing with DNA extraction. This would help to illuminate red stains found on the defendant’s clothing. 

The trial is scheduled for March 16, almost eight years after Bowser was initially arrested. He is also charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a dangerous weapon in this case.

Multiple issues caused delays in bringing Bowser’s case to trial. In 2019, Bowser’s public defenders motioned to withdraw due to an agency-wide conflict, according to court documents. He was supposed to go to trial in April 2020, but his defense counsel asked for the trial to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, in 2021, his lawyer and her second chair motioned to withdraw due to personal issues.

Parties are slated to meet in court again for a status hearing on March 3.