Who is in the wrong in Marshall County after man convicted of sex crimes goes back to jail after being freed?

Marshall County
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December 25 2021 12:00 am

MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Convicted of child sex crimes, to walking free with the state paying for damages.  Now back​ in prison, the case of Michael Daniel Bowman caused a rollercoaster of emotion for everyone from the victims to attorneys. 

Man convicted of sex crimes walks free in West Virginia after judge catches ‘fatal flaws’ in grand jury transcript

A man convicted and serving a near-life sentence for child sex crimes, Michael Daniel Bowman, was released back in April with prejudice, which means he could never be brought back and prosecuted again. 

But Tuesday night, the West Virginia Supreme Court said, ‘not so fast’ and overturned the Marshall County Circuit Court’s ruling on Bowman’s case. 

“The prosecutor did not instruct the grand jury as to what the law was,” said Circuit Court Judge David Hummel Jr.

Judge Hummel felt compelled to release Bowman after he said acting prosecuting attorney in 2016, Rhonda Wade, did not properly prep the grand jury. 

To sit back and have your professional reputation impugned is not easy. More difficult than that was us having to call the victims and tell them Mr. Bowman was released from prison.

Rhonda Wade and Andrea Poling, prosecuting attorneys of the 2016 Bowman trial:

Seven months went by. Bowman was a free man. Until an appeal, led by the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, reached the eyes of the West Virginia Supreme Court and raised an eyebrow in Judge Hummel’s ruling. 

The Supreme Court found nothing was done improperly at the grand jury level. 

A Writ of Prohibition was filed before the Supreme Court. It stops the Circuit Court from enforcing Hummel’s decision. 

And also, absent of showing intentional fraud, the Circuit Court cannot look behind an indictment. 

So, basically, what the circuit court did, they did not have the authority to do.

Joe Canestraro, Prosecuting Attorney of Marshall County

Canestraro is the acting attorney who, when Judge Hummel’s gavel came down 7 months ago, said, “I can tell you that is not the practice of my office, not to give legal instructions on the law.” 

But now,  “Do we still admit to that? No, no,” said Canestraro. “If you look at the Supreme Court’s release, they found no wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Wade’s. Basically, they said there is no prosecutorial misconduct.” 

“I don’t think we ever misstepped and I never thought that. But sometimes you have to sit back and let the system work its way out.” 

Rhonda Wade and Andrea Poling, prosecuting attorneys of the 2016 Bowman trial:

And, for Michael Daniel Bowman, he was sentenced originally 28 to 70 years in prison. 

“It basically re-instated the convictions against Michael Bowman,” said Prosecutor Canestraro.

What feels maybe like DeJa’Vu, the prosecutors called the victims and told the two girls, who sat in the courtroom many years ago and painfully re-told their abuse, that the man who did it is behind bars, again. 

“It was a hard case back then, so like Ms. Wade I am happy to see that justice is still being served and he’s back where he belongs,” said Poling.

Judge Hummel Jr. said his ruling opened Pandora’s Box for other cases that reached verdicts in Wade’s term. But Canestraro says the Supreme Court’s posture in Bowman’s case just closed that box for good and saved him a lot of unnecessary work. 

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