Judge grants bond for U.S. Navy Sailor charged with murder on self-defense arguments

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NORFOLK, Va. – An active-duty U.S. Navy Sailor charged with murder was granted bond Friday afternoon after a judge ruled he is not a flight risk or danger to the community.

Donald Bowman, 26, was granted a $75,000 secured bond in Norfolk General District Court after being charged with the second degree murder of 20-year-old James Henderson Jr.

Police report they were called to the 700 block of Washington St in Norfolk after a gunfight broke out early Saturday morning.

Friday morning defense attorneys Trevor Robinson and Matthew Curcione walked the judge through what happened that night, according to their client.

Donald Bowman

They said Bowman was attending a party and working security at the door when he was approached by a man, who we now know is Henderson, asked why Bowman was giving dirty looks. Attorneys advise their client deescalated the situation by saying ‘this is how I look at everyone.’

The defense argues later that night Henderson went to his car to get a gun, came back to the door and pointed it at Bowman. Again, the defense said Bowman deescalated the situation saying ‘it doesn’t have to be like this.’

It was when the victim drew his weapon the second time that the defense said their client fired in self-defense. Henderson also fired shots.

Police say Henderson was hit several times and died from his injuries. Police also say another person was shot but the wound was not life-threatening. It is unclear whether or not the other victim was shot by Bowman or Henderson.

As Bowman was trying to get away from the gunfight, that’s when his attorneys said he was hit twice in his lower extremities. Bowman was in medical attire Friday, dressed in inmate clothing from HRRJ, wearing a catheter.

Attorneys continued to tell the judge that Bowman ran to his car after being shot and tried to call 911 but could not get through so he drove to a toll road and asked one of the tellers to call the police and tell them he had been shot and so had someone else on Washington Avenue.

During his decision the judge was presented with Bowman’s service record -- eight years in the U.S, Navy and currently stationed on the USS Dwight D Eisenhower.

Bowman’s commanding officer, Chief Petty Officer Yendry Martinez was in the courtroom and told the judge that, if granted bond, Bowman would be at work from 0700 to at least 1530, Monday through Friday.

Bowman owns a home in Suffolk where he lives with his long-term girlfriend and young daughter. He has no criminal record and was working towards a career as a Portsmouth Police Officer.

The judge granted Bowman bond under several conditions. He cannot drink alcohol or take drugs, he cannot have guns. His curfew is strict; he must inside his home from 6 pm to 6 am every day. He has to keep his job with the Navy and cannot leave the state. He is not to have any contact with the victims or witnesses in the case. And unless he is with counsel, he cannot go anywhere near where the party took place.

Bowman will have his preliminary hearing on February 7 at 10:30 am.

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