Emotion, severity from judge at Renee Bowman's sentencing
At a sentencing hearing today for Renee Bowman -- who was sent away for the rest of her life for killing two of her adopted children and stuffing their bodies into her freezer -- the judge showed more emotion than the convict.
This was particularly so when the judge, Michael J. Algeo, described a picture he keeps in his chambers. He told the Montgomery County courtroom that it was appropriate that he describe the picture, and read the quotation underneath it that speaks to the importance of helping children.
Algeo, 60, has raised three children of his own.
“It’s a picture of a beautiful, young child,” Algeo said, halting to compose himself for nearly 30 seconds. Then:
The picture of that child, running down the beach. With her hair flowing in the wind, running free. And the quote says, ‘Fifty years from now, it will not matter what kind of car you drove, what kind of house you lived in, how much you had in your bank account, or what your clothes looked like. But the world may be a little brighter because you were important in the life of a child.’
“And Ms. Bowman,” Algeo continued, as she sat below his bench, “you had the opportunity to do something good in this world, something special, particularly as an adoptive parent. To bring those children into your home. To nurture, to teach, to guide, to love. To provide them with a safe haven where they can play and laugh and thrive far away from the harsh realities of this challenging world. Instead you tortured, brutalized and killed them."
“It has been described by some to be one of the worst, one of the most horrific cases ever seen in Montgomery County," said Algeo. "I myself, over the course of 25 years as a prosecutor, as a defense lawyer, as a judge, have seen some horrible crimes. This is indeed the worst.”
Algeo, whose wife gave him the picture when he started as a judge, sentenced Bowman to two consecutive life terms in prison, without the chance of parole, plus 75 more years for child abuse.
When Algeo described Bowman's crimes, there was no halting or wavering in his voice.
“We know what the witnesses at trial have told us," he said. "That you taunted these children. That you instilled a fear in them that no child should have to experience. You beat them, and you tortured these children. You smothered them. You murdered them. You bound them with tape and placed their lifeless bodies in a freezer -- one on top of the other. You sentenced these two young, innocent children in the dawn of their lives to a death chamber. And for you, that option is not available.”
Under Maryland law, prosecutors have said, Bowman was not eligible for the death penalty.
-- Dan Morse
Washington Post Editors
March 22, 2010; 3:47 PM ET
Categories: Dan Morse , From the Courthouse , Montgomery
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