Bond denied for murder suspect

Police Sgt. Bob Moore watches as murder suspect Brian Bowens listens during court Friday.
Staff Writer

Citing the "seriousness" of the crime, the fact he was on the run for more than three weeks, and his two prior drug convictions, a West Point city judge declined Friday to set a bond for 27-year-old murder suspect Brian Alexander Bowens.

During a 20-minute arraignment in Municipal Court, Judge Bennie Jones entered a "not guilty" plea on Bowens' behalf, appointed Public Defender Kristen Wood-Williams to represent him, and set an Oct. 30 preliminary hearing.

Bowens turned himself in Thursday on murder charges stemming from the Aug. 19 shooting death of 26-year-old Aaron Lamar Fenton near where Bowens lived at 763 Fifth Street North.

Fenton was shot at about 12:30 p.m. and found lying in Fifth Street near the intersection with Progress Street. He died later at North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point.West Point Police Det. Ramirez Ivy told the judge Bowens had contacted Police Chief Avery Cook the week of the shooting, promising to turn himself in, but didn't. He called again on Sept. 11, again promising to turn himself in. He called again on the Sept. 13 and did come in that day, said Ivy, the lead investigator in the case.

Bowens has suggested he acted in self-defense, but detectives have not corroborated those claims.

Ivy said Friday he also has not confirmed where Bowens had been for the 24 days.

"Because of the nature of this crime and the amount of time he was at large, I don't believe it would be prudent to set a bond at this time," Judge Jones said before the soft-spoken Bowens was led back to jail.

Ironically, on Aug. 17, two days before the shooting, Jones had signed a bench warrant for Bowens because he'd failed to appear in city court on a no driver's license ticket written on May 25. The judge took care of that issue Friday when Bowens pleaded guilty. He'll get credit for the time he's in jail, in essence paying off his fine.

Bowens is no stranger to the courts. The Mississippi Department of Corrections has a hold on him for probation violations for drug convictions dating back to April 2016 and July 2017.

The new murder charge could prompt a judge to revoke his probation in both the drug cases.

His record also includes a six-month sentence in Florida for possession of a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction in Florida and traffic violations in both Mississippi and Florida.

His mother lives in Florida.