By Daniel Silliman
Though he's wanted on charges of murdering a baby, Philanders Lamont Bowie isn't in hiding, according to his mother. He's just lying low, out of sight of the U.S. Marshals and the Clayton County District Attorney's Office, waiting until he can hire a good lawyer, and until the election season passes.
"He's going to turn himself in," said Felicia Tomas, Bowie's mother, on the phone from Alexandria, La. "Why wouldn't he? He hasn't done anything wrong. He's not going to hide ... He's just keeping on the down low."
The 27-year-old man has been charged, let go and then charged again with brutally beating his girlfriend's 19-month-old daughter to death in July of 2005. The case against him was dismissed in February, with prosecutors saying the autopsy report showed Bowie was the "least likely suspect," after the girl's mother, Candace Jakes, and uncle.
The dead girl, Makayla Denise Valley, had new and old bruises all over her body, along with cuts, scrapes and burns, signaling the child was, in the phrasing of the autopsy report, "chronically abused" before being murdered.
District Attorney Jewel Scott said the child was clearly being abused, and everyone in that house was guilty of abusing her or allowing the abuse to continue.
Clayton County Police, investigating the case, questioned the child's mother's account of events, but Bowie, during 23 hours of interviews with the detectives, broke down crying, curled into a corner of the room and confessed that he did it.
He is the only one who has ever been charged. The case was dismissed in February of 2008. Bowie was released from jail after spending more than two years locked up, awaiting trial. He left town.
He went back to Louisiana, where his mother lives. He suffered from sever bouts of depression, saw a series of psychologists, who diagnosed him with "Post-Traumatic Stress." He talked about trying to put his life back together. He said, Tomas recalled, that he might pursue nursing again.
"But it doesn't look like that will happen," Tomas said. Four months after he was set free -- after the toddler's mother was seen on TV demanding justice; after the case was cited by attorney Herbert Adams as he challenged District Attorney Jewel Scott's re-election bid, and after medical examiners said the autopsy actually doesn't clear Bowie of the crime -- the 27-year-old was charged again.
"This has got to be political," Tomas said. "It doesn't make sense. Why would they let him go, if they really thought he did it?"
Prosecutors re-indicted the case in June, and in early July, three years after the child died and a week before the county election, prosecutors said they were waiting for the U.S. Marshals to find Bowie and bring him back to Clayton County.
The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed they were looking for Bowie, but would not release any details about actions taken or progress made.
Tomas said she signed all the bond papers for her son, so the officials have all her information, but no one has contacted her, asking about Bowie.
"He's going to turn himself in," Tomas said. "I'm just trying to get a good lawyer, so when we come in, he won't be sitting in jail. We don't want him sitting in jail. He's already spent two years and three months in jail."
She's also worried that the prosecutors might seek the death penalty. The District Attorney's Office, however, said there's been no discussion of seeking the death penalty. But Tomas is still suspicious.
"I got to get a good lawyer," she said. "I just got to get a good lawyer."