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Jury sees alleged confession,
crying in murder trial

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Jurors watched hours and hours of video in the third day of the murder trial of Philanders Lamont Bowie.

They watched police department video showing Candace Jakes react to pictures of her bruised and dead baby, and video showing Bowie saying he "threw the child into the chair ... I was just tossing her around."

Makayla Denise Valley died when her liver ruptured in July 2005. According to the autopsy, the year-and-a-half-old girl was "chronically abused" before she died of blunt force trauma to the stomach.

When Clayton County Police Department detectives interviewed Jakes and Bowie, they believed one, or the other, or both, had abused the baby to death.

In the interviews, which jurors watched on Friday, detectives attempted to elicit information and confessions from the pair.

Jakes' interview was played first. She told the jury that until she saw the pictures, in her second police interview two days after Valley's death, she didn't realize the girl hadn't died of natural causes. When the detective threw photos of the dead child on the table, Jakes became hysterical.

She screamed, wailed, slammed her hand on the table, and hyperventilated. She said, "he killed my baby. He ... he ... he ... he killed her. He killed a baby, didn't he? There were bruises all over."

In the police interview with Bowie, the man is repeatedly told that the fatal injury happened in the 24 to 36 hours preceding the death, making Jakes and Bowie the only suspects.

"What happened to that child?" Detective Frank Thomas asks in the video recording, pointing at a post-mortem picture. "This is dead. She is dead. She is gone. She was beaten. Her brain was bleeding."

During the interviews, both Jakes and Bowie said Valley had some bruises, the days before her death, but nothing really serious and nothing like they saw in the photos. Bowie remembered a bump on Valley's head. Jakes remembered some marks on the girl's arm.

"We got two grown folks who didn't notice this?" Detective Ponda Maine said in the recording. "A blind man would have noticed these bruises."

Bowie did not immediately break down, when detectives showed him pictures of Valley after she was dead. At one point, though, Jakes' screaming could be heard from the other room, and Bowie began to cry.

"It's you and her. You and her. Somebody hurt this child," Thomas said, and then Bowie admitted to shaking the little girl, while he was baby-sitting on the day of the death.

"I just grabbed that baby. I don't know if it was hard. I just shook her, man. A couple of seconds," Bowie said.

He, then 24, asked to see his mother, and when she came into the interview room, he collapsed in tears, falling to the floor with loud moaning.

Bowie cried, according to the detective, for "a straight hour." The detective responded by telling Bowie he'd feel better if he talked about what happened, and then told Bowie the baby's death was an accident, not his fault, but an accident, but he needed to say he had done it.

"I don't think you meant to hurt that baby," Thomas told Bowie. "It was an accident. It was an accident, Phil. That's all it was. Just an accident ... You need to tell me what happened. It makes things right. Not only with me. It makes things right with the Lord."

Thomas, pushing for a confession, repeatedly used the word "accident," during the interview, and told the murder suspect to confess to killing Valley without meaning to.

"What are you going to tell her, Phil?" Thomas asked, in the video recording. "Are you going to tell her 'I intentionally took the life of your child?' I don't think so. I think you're going to tell her it was an accident."

Bowie didn't use the word "accident," when he gave what police and prosecutors have characterized as a confession, instead admitting to hurting Valley, but not killing her. The detectives sent Jakes in to talk to Bowie, and he quietly told her he had "tossed" Valley into a bouncy seat.

"I tossed her into the seat," he said.

"Forcibly?" Jakes asked.

"Forcibly," he replied.

"You need to tell me exactly what happened," she said.

"I just got frustrated," he answered.

"Tell me what happened when you got frustrated," she said.

"I was just tossing her around, Candace. In her chair," he said.

"She had blood in her brain," Jakes said. "She was hit with something. You hit her with something."

"No, no, Candace, no, no, no. I didn't do that. I had nothing to do with that," Bowie said.

Prosecuting attorney John Turner has said Bowie's confession is the centerpiece of the case against him. He said Bowie should be convicted of murder on the basis of his own words.

The defense attorney, Steve Frey, argues that the police and prosecutors have ignored the medical evidence, and have let Jakes pass without scrutiny.

The trial continues on Monday, as Turner continues to make his case.