TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John Ross
A Cannon man facing four decades in prison was slated for a sentencing hearing Friday in Knox County Circuit Court.
But he never showed up.
James Bowling, 45, entered into a plea agreement in January in two separate cases against him.
Bowling was handed a 21-count indictment one year ago in March. All charges were related to sex crimes Bowling allegedly committed against a minor, including 10 counts of first-degree rape. All crimes reportedly occurred between April 2010 to July 2012. He was also indicted on charges of first-degree persistent felony offender, after his Laurel County conviction in February 2010 of possession of methamphetamine precursors, and his Knox County conviction in March 1998 for his fourth offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants and first-degree wanton endangerment.
Bowling had already been named on an October 2012 indictment. In that case he was charged with two counts of third-degree arson, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief, first-degree wanton endangerment, second-degree fleeing or evading police, alcohol intoxication and first-degree persistent felony offender.
In the rape case, Bowling was to enter a guilty plea to amended charges — two counts of second-degree rape. According to the plea agreement, Bowling was to be sentenced to 10 years for each one of those counts — a total of 20 years, as the sentences would run consecutively. The remaining counts of that original indictment would then have been dismissed.
In the arson case, Bowling was to plead guilty to the first two counts on his indictment — two charges of third-degree arson — and plead guilty to the amended charge of second-degree persistent felony offender. The Commonwealth’s recommended sentence in that case was five years on each charge, enhanced to 10 years each with his plea to second-degree persistent felony offender. That totals another 20 year sentence, which is to run consecutively to the first 20-year sentence, according to the plea agreement.
That leaves Bowling with a 40-year sentence.
Also, Bowling is supposed to pay $21,000 in restitution to two of the property holders who were victimized by his arson crimes. The remaining counts of that original indictment would then have been dismissed.
On Friday, Judge Tom Jensen called Bowling’s two cases forward for his sentencing — but the only one to stand before Jensen was Bowling’s defense attorney, Deaidra Douglas.
Little was said during this brief hearing, although Jensen did ensure an arrest warrant had been issued for Bowling.
After court ended, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Danny Evans said that with Bowling disappearing while on bond, the agreement could possibly be terminated.
Bowling was released from the Knox County Detention Center on a $75,000 cash bond.
A status hearing has been slated for April to determine whether Bowling has been arrested.
In May 2013, Dr. Lindsey Jayne Jasinski, a psychiatrist with the University of Kentucky psychiatric department, testified that Bowling was more than capable of standing a trial during a competency hearing.
She told Jensen that she found him “talkative,” and testified that while he was under duress from his girlfriend’s incarceration and the death of his mother, it did not diminish his capacity to understand. “He’s aware of the charges, (and) he’s aware of the penalties,” she said. “He has a good understanding of (legal) terminology and procedures — there’s no issues regarding (Bowling’s) competency.”
According to Knox County Sheriff John Pickard, Bowling was seen setting trailers ablaze on Hutton Lane near Barbourville.
Pickard said Deputy Brian Hensley responded to the area in August 2012 after receiving a phone call of an intoxicated man setting fire to trailers in the area.
Hensley observed Bowling running from one of the trailers that was on fire.
After a short foot pursuit, Hensley caught and arrested Bowling.
The Barbourville City Fire Department was contacted to put out the fire, but the damage was already done, Pickard said. Hensley learned this was the second time the fire department had been to this residence, and it was suspected arson was to blame the first time.
Pickard said after Hensley talked to neighbors in the area, it was determined Bowling was setting the fires.