LIBERTY — Jurors convicted Viola Bowman, 60, this week of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2012 killing of her husband, Albert “Rusty” Bowman.
The Clay County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office accused Viola of shooting her husband to death and attempting to stage the scene to look like a break-in had occurred in the couple’s home. Bowman has maintained her innocence through the years, saying she found her husband with gunshot wounds when she returned from shopping at Walmart on Nov. 7, 2012.
On that fall day nine years ago, Kansas City police were dispatched to the Bowman residence regarding an ambulance call placed by Viola.
“Viola Bowman had reported that the residence has been broken into by an unknown party who had killed her husband. However, as the investigation progressed, evidence indicated that no break-in occurred at the residence,” states a release from Prosecuting Attorney Dan White’s office. “Investigators determined that Ms. Bowman shot her husband once in the head and once in the chest at their residence in Kansas City before eventually calling 911.”
Jurors recommended Viola serve life without parole for the killing and 10 years for the felony armed criminal action charge. Clay County Circuit Court Judge Shane T. Alexander ordered a sentencing hearing for Nov. 10.
Almost two years after the murder, police brought Viola in for questioning, but let her go. She was charged by grand jury indictment in January 2015 and had been in jail awaiting trial for years. According to the prosecuting attorney’s office, the case had been set for trial 11 times prior to the case’s resolution this week.
“At the time of the grand jury indictment, the state was prepared to set the case for a jury trial to timely resolve this matter. Unfortunately, not all cases are able to be tried quickly due to the way the court systems works. In addition, this case presented unprecedented hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said White.
As the verdict was announced, the Kansas City Star reported one of Viola’s supporters gasped and cried in the courtroom. Afterward, her attorney, Horton Lance, was seen consoling Viola as she cried.
In 2020, Viola allegedly rejected a plea deal that would have downgraded the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter. The deal would have meant five years in prison with credit for time served, meaning Viola could have been released if she accepted the offer and pleaded guilty.
“I did not do this,” she told the judge.