A Council Bluffs man will get probation after he sent threatening text messages to an individual as part of a domestic incident.
In the July 6 messages, James W. Bowman, 34, threatened to kill and torture a member of the individual’s family, using graphic and vulgar language, according to a police affidavit.
Among other things, Bowman told the individual that “when your (family member) comes up missing and (their) house burns to the ground, I want you to remember what you did to me. You’ll put (him/her) away closed casket for this …”
He added: “I can’t wait to finish what I started years ago with a black eye. AND (he/she) asked for it ever since. So say goodbye while you have the chance,” according to the affidavit.
Bowman pleaded no contest on Sept. 24 to attempted terroristic threats, a class IV felony.
He had originally been charged with terroristic threats, a class IIIA felony, but pleaded to the lower class IV felony as part of a plea agreement with the Dodge County Attorney’s Office.
Class IV felonies carry a presumption of probation under a 2015 state law, meaning that probation is considered the appropriate sentence unless substantial reason can be shown otherwise. Those reasons could include something like repeated failures to comply with the court.
In Dodge County District Court on Monday, Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass outlined concerns about Bowman’s case. He submitted a letter from the victim to District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall and noted that the victim was “very scared of the defendant.”
He also said that, according to a pre-sentence investigation, the victim was a “high risk to re-offend with regards to domestic violence,” and had at times attempted to “minimize” his role in the crime.
However, Glass also conceded that there was evidence that Bowman was making progress in therapy, and that, the presumption of probation was likely not overcome.
“My hope would be that the court structures a very sound term of probation, and no contact with the victim or family,” Glass told Hall.
He asked that the judge order that there be no contact with the victim in the case as part of his probation.
Bowman’s lawyer, Nicholas Wurth, submitted a progress report attesting to Bowman’s positive steps in therapy. He added that Bowman was currently on probation in Iowa and was “in good standing” there. Additionally, Bowman was working on getting treatment.
“He’s doing that, and not only doing that, but making progress,” Wurth added.
Bowman declined to comment in court.
Hall ultimately handed down the probation sentence, citing state law.
“I do not see any information that indicates the presumption of probation is overcome and as such I will order probation as indicated by the law,” he said.
Bowman received 24 months of intensive supervised probation, which would mandate him to follow all recommendations of his substance abuse evaluation, attend and complete an anger management class, attend and complete moral reconation therapy, work or seek work, submit to random drug testing, complete 90 hours of community service and have no contact with the victim or the victim’s family.
Dodge County Chief Deputy Attorney Sara Sopinski, who negotiated the deal, said she believed the deal was strong. However, she added that she would have preferred prison time for Bowman, but was restricted by the state legislature’s presumption of probation on class IV felonies.
In other District Court news from Monday:
- Matthew McMullen, 31, had his bond reduced by District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall from $450,000 with a 10 percent option to $100,000 with a 10 percent option over the objections of the Dodge County Attorney’s Office. McMullen has pleaded not guilty to two sexual assault of a child charges, as well as a child abuse charge — the most serious of which is a I-B felony first degree sexual assault of a child, which could yield 20 years to life in prison.
Glass argued that he was concerned about McMullen being a flight risk due to the severity of the charges, but McMullen’s attorney, Tim Sopinski said that McMullen had a job lined up and would be staying with his father, whom Sopinski noted was a veteran, who was present in court. He added that there was “absolutely no physical evidence” tying McMullen to the charges.
Hall ordered that there be no contact with the alleged victim.
- Chad Kohout, 31, was sentenced to 16 to 20 years in prison. He was sentenced to eight to 12 years on a burglary charge, two years for violating a protection order for a second time and three years for terroristic threats. Those sentences were all set to run consecutively, and also consecutive to three other charges set in county court that totaled three years. As the Tribune has previously reported, the sentence came as the result of a plea agreement that had been announced in September.
- Christian Green, 18, of Fremont, was sentenced to 24 months of probation on a class IIIA felony of terroristic threats. Green had pleaded in October to the charge. He was arrested in September after holding a rifle up at two individuals as part of a dispute, warning them to leave his property or “they’ll regret it,” a police affidavit notes. A class IC felony of use of a weapon to commit a felony and a third degree assault charge were dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Glass said that if the court decided on probation, the state was pushing for anger management classes to be a part of the sentence. Green’s attorney, Adam Tripp, noted that the pre-sentence investigation seemed to show that “Mr. Green would be a suitable candidate for probation” and was considered to be in the “lower risk ranges,” was gainfully employed and “could really use some of the supports probation would offer.”
In addition to anger management classes, Hall mandated that Green pursue his GED, moral reconation therapy, work or seek work and complete 120 hours of community service.
- Justin Anthony, 32, was sentenced to two to three years in prison on a class IIA felony of attempt to deliver a controlled substance, in this case, methamphetamine. Anthony had applied for the Dodge County Drug Court, but his application was denied due to discrepancies over his stated employment.
- Michael Rengstorf, 30, pleaded no contest to a possession of methamphetamine, a class IV felony and received nine months of incarceration with 111 days previously served.