ST. PAUL -- A Ramsey County judge on Tuesday declined to release Minnesota’s oldest murder defendant, who suffers from an array of health issues, to his family.
Citing the seriousness of the charges and the need for a mental health evaluation, District Judge Jeffrey Bryan said Kenneth Henry Bowser, 90, should remain in custody pending the results of the assessment.
Bowser is accused of fatally shooting his son, Larry Bowser, 65, after a dispute about watching TV in their Maplewood home, according to a criminal complaint. The elder Bowser told investigators he’d seen something on the news recently about a son who killed his father by setting him afire and said he was worried something like that might happen to him. He said he fired a warning shot, but the bullet instead struck and killed Larry Bowser.
Defense attorney Albert Goins told the court Tuesday that Kenneth Bowser suffers from health issues, including dementia. He argued that the nonagenarian, who requires a wheelchair and catheter, should be released from custody into the care of his family due to the “exceptional circumstances.”
“He’s going to suffer in advance of this process, which will be lengthy and complicated,” Goins said.
But the judge agreed with prosecutors and declined to release Bowser.
After the hearing, Michael Bowser - Larry Bowser’s brother - said the court could have released his father “because of his health conditions or age.”
“He’s no flight risk, he’s no threat,” Michael Bowser, 60, said.
The family had hoped Kenneth Bowser would be allowed to stay with one of them “or he could’ve gone back home and I could’ve stayed there and taken care of him,” Michael Bowser said.
For now, they’ll wait for the mental health evaluation to be completed, he said.
Kenneth Bowser called 911 on Saturday night to report that he’d shot and killed his son with a pistol.
When Maplewood police officers arrived at the home in the 1200 block of Hilltop Court, Bowser met them at the front door. Police handcuffed him and put him in his wheelchair, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.
Police found Larry Bowser slumped in an upstairs bedroom doorway with no pulse. The medical examiner determined Larry Bowser bled to death from a bullet wound to his lower back.
Bowser said his son had been calling him names and complaining about taking care of him.
The two men were the only ones who lived in the home.
On the night of the shooting, Kenneth Bowser said, he was watching TV in his room when his son came upstairs and asked him to come down to the living room to watch football with him. The father declined, but the son returned a short time later and began removing cables from his TV, Kenneth Bowser told police.
Bowser said he used a .38-caliber revolver that had been given to him by a friend 20 years ago. He said he kept it in his bedroom but had never fired it, the complaint said.
Michael Bowser said Tuesday that the family wasn’t sure exactly what led to the shooting and that he hadn’t had a chance to talk to his father.
Asked about his brother, Michael Bowser said, “He was a good person who we’re missing. Under the conditions, there’s not much we can do now but pray.”
Kenneth Bowser will be back in court for a review of the evaluation Oct. 13.
At 90, Bowser is the oldest person ever charged with murder in Minnesota. Another Maplewood man held the record last year. He died in September before sentencing. Pang Vang, 84, had pleaded guilty to murder in the shooting death of 36-year-old Chue Vang.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.