Damon Bowie, the convicted gunman in last year's deadly robbery of Stoney's restaurant in Prince George's County, was sentenced to death last night for the execution-style slayings of two Stoney's employees.
Bowie, 20, one of four men and a woman accused of taking part in the Oct. 11, 1989, holdup of the popular Clinton restaurant, was sentenced to die in Maryland's gas chamber by a judge acting on instructions from a jury.
The jury, which convicted Bowie of two counts of first-degree murder and numerous other offenses in August, reconvened this week to decide on a penalty in the case. The panel deliberated for 6 1/2 hours yesterday before returning shortly before 9 p.m. and instructing Circuit Court Judge Vincent J. Femia to impose the death penalty.
The jurors could have ordered Femia to sentence Bowie to life in prison without parole eligibility, or life with the possibility of parole.
"He got the penalty that fit the crime, that's all I can say," said restaurant owner Allan Stone, who was shot in the right elbow.
A customer in the restaurant, off-duty Prince George's police Detective Robert McDaniel, who was left disfigured by a bullet wound to the face, declined to comment after last night's sentencing.
As Bowie sat motionless, eyes fixed on the table in front of him, Femia acted immediately on the jury's instructions. He imposed two death sentences, one for the slaying of Stoney's chef Arnold Batson, 27, and one for the killing of manager Kevin Shelley, 28. Each was shot once in the back of the head at close range, according to detectives.
Bowie and the other robbers escaped with about $300, police said.
Maryland has not carried out an execution since 1961. The state did, however, enact a death penalty statute after the Supreme Court allowed the restoration of capital punishment in 1976.
Femia also sentenced Bowie to 140 years in prison for numerous crimes related to the holdup, including multiple counts of armed robbery, assault, attempted murder and illegal use of a handgun.
"We're disappointed but not surprised" at the verdict, said defense attorney Barry Helfand.
In the penalty hearing, which began Monday, Helfand tried to convince jurors that Bowie was "worth saving." He summoned witnesses familiar with his client's background in an effort to portray Bowie as an emotionally unbalanced product of a troubled childhood.
Among those who testified was Bowie's biological mother, who underwent a sex change operation when Damon Bowie was 14. The parent, L.A. Bowie, who is now balding and wears a beard, said the sex change apparently left the son with simmering, bottled-up emotions.
According to police, Damon Bowie and another man, James H. Edmonds, 26, entered the restaurant with handguns while a third suspect stood watch outside and two others waited in a getaway vehicle. Edmonds, the first defendant to be tried in the case, was sentenced in July to 130 years in prison.
Police said Bowie was the only robber to fire shots in the holdup.
The three other suspects, Bowie's sister, Christian Bowie, 21, Derrel Thomas, 16, and Shaun Harris, 17, are awaiting trials. All are charged as adults with first-degree murder, but none faces a death sentence.