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Student of Murder

A Seattle man gunned down at a stoplight -- was it road rage or was someone killing just for the thrill?

Produced by Paul LaRosa and Jonathan Leach

[This story originally aired on February 2. It was updated on September 10.]

(CBS NEWS) SEATTLE -- “It was early evening of Aug. 31, 2012, when Yancy Noll left work and headed home. He started driving his battered old Subaru up Interstate 5. At some point, he encountered a man in a BMW,” Prosecutor Kristin Richardson told “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant. “He had no way of knowing he was going to be dead in 10 minutes.”

King County prosecutors Adrienne McCoy and Kristin Richardson say the murder of Yancy Noll -- shot to death in his car while stopped at a red light -- put the city of Seattle on edge.

“This case is about the presence of evil in our world,” said McCoy.

“It was like a bomb had dropped,” said Richardson.

“None of us is safe,” McCoy said. “Any of us could have been Yancy Noll.”

“The police went all out. They took it very seriously,” said Richardson.

Alison Grande is a reporter for KIRO-7, a CBS News affiliate.

“This was a very big story,” she told Van Sant. “We have shootings in Seattle. We don’t necessarily have many shootings in that area of Seattle. That time of day. And that type of victim.”

“What were you hearing? Did Yancy Noll have any enemies?” Van Sant asked Grande.

“From talking to his friends, Yancy didn’t have any enemies.”He was an outdoorsy guy who enjoyed fine wine. Loved what he did, working as a wine steward at QFC,” she replied.

Yancy Noll and Lola

Yancy Noll and Lola

Seattle Police Department

Bottom line: Yancy Noll, 42, was a good-natured, happy-go-lucky guy and friends say the idea that he exploded into a road rage battle is ridiculous.

“He drove like a grandma. He was very, very careful,” Brad Kenny, a longtime friend, said. “He had a Subaru wagon, not known for its speed.

Asked if Noll was angry, impulsive or reckless,” Kenny said “no.”

“[Was he] verbally abusive?” Van Sant asked.

“God, no. Not even close,” Kenny replied. “He was so careful and mindful with how he interacted with people.”

Investigators suspect Noll and his killer crossed paths around 7 p.m. on Interstate 5 just north of Seattle.

“It’s possible that there was some sort of confrontation and Yancy pulled up to the intersection thinking nothing of it,” said Kenny.

“You think he ever knew what hit him?” Van Sant asked.

“Never,” Kenny replied. “He was killed instantly, thank God. He had no idea what happened.”

The details of this shooting were curious, to say the least. Five shots were fired with remarkable accuracy and the shooter killed Yancy Noll just a few feet from other motorists.

“I hear five rapid shots, kinda like a ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’” said Kevin Watts.

Watts and his friend Angjelo Rama were driving together when they heard those five pops behind them. The next thing they saw was a car speeding away into oncoming traffic.

“... they drove by. And I was like, that’s kinda weird that someone wouldn’t wait for a red light,” Watts told Van Sant.

Upset that the driver had run the red light, the two friends hit the gas and gave chase.

“We couldn’t catch up to him,” said Watts.

“How fast did that vehicle peel outta here?” Van Sant asked.

“Zero to 60 in, like ... two, three, seconds. He was gone,” said Watts.

Rama and Watts gave up the chase and returned to the scene where a Subaru was still at the curb with its motor running. The friends had a sinking feeling that those “pops” they’d heard likely were gunshots.

“I saw a lot of blood,” Watts said. “I saw where the bullets holes were, and I realized that there was just -- there was absolutely nothing I could do.”

The shooter’s bullets had hit Noll four times in the head. A fifth bullet missed its intended target, but very nearly claimed a second victim.

“It sounded like a huge explosion,” said Patricia Schulmeister.

Schulmeister, now 92, got up to see what was happening and nearly tripped over a bullet inside her home. She told “48 Hours” how it got there.

“The bullet came through our fence ... came through the pane of glass. It hit the big lampshade that was on top of that big lamp. Through this hallway. And before it landed , it hit this picture of my precious kitty cat, Miss BP, and then it dropped to the floor,” she explained.

Shulmeister took the bullet and headed outside where she spotted a crime scene investigator.

“I tapped him on the shoulder and held out my hand and gave him the bullet,” she said.

The bullet was a 9mm fired from a Glock pistol. It was a solid piece of evidence in a case that, at that point, didn’t have much.

“We didn’t know if it was a targeted shooting or if was a random shooting or -- or anything about what it was,” said Detective Frank Clark of the Seattle Police Department.

The case was about to consume detectives Frank Clark and Dana Duffy for the next two years.

“Yancy had no criminal history, no history of being a hothead,” Det. Duffy said. “We really didn’t have a lot to go on.”

After closely inspecting the crime scene, the detectives realized Noll’s window was down and the shooter had fired those five shots right through his own passenger side window.

“That’s so strange to me. The shooter would shoot through the passenger’s side window of his car at someone else. Have you ever heard of such a thing?” Van Sant asked Det. Duffy.

“No ... it was strange to us as well,” she replied. “That was a huge piece of evidence.”

The police now knew the shooter’s car had a broken passenger-side window -- and there was more. Even though witness Angjelo Rama had only glimpsed the fleeing car for a split second, something registered.

“My first guess was an M4, a BMW car and the one I saw was a convertible. It was Silver,” he said.

“Was the top up or down?” Van Sant asked.

“It was down ... and when he was driving by I noticed he had really, really nice silver rims,” said Rama.

Armed with his detailed description, the police advised the public to be on the lookout for that BMW model with that broken passenger side window.

bowmansketch220.jpg

As for the driver, Kevin Watts helped a police artist come up with a remarkably detailed sketch of the shooter.

“I looked at the person who was drivin’ the car ‘cause -- I’m really good with faces,” he explained.

Within a week, the sketch was released to the public along with grainy still photos of the car from a nearby security camera.

“We knew that police in Seattle were looking for a silver BMW. And they were pulling them over,” Grande told Van Sant of the stops being made all over the city.

Police were desperate to stop the killer from striking again, not knowing if or when he would. Two weeks went by and then a suspect surfaced who surprised everyone.

“When you see something like this, from somebody who has it all together, he’s not crazy. He’s just evil,” said McCoy.

AN UNLIKELY SUSPECT

In the two weeks that followed Yancy Noll’s brutal execution, cops received hundreds of tips about that dark-haired suspect in a silver sports car.

“It seemed at that time that everybody in the city of Seattle was driving a BMW Z4 or a Z3,” said Det. Clark.

Then, on Sept. 14, “A woman calls in an anonymous tip,” said Det. Duffy.

For the first time, the mysterious man has a name.

“...And she provides a name of Dinh Bowman and his address, which is less than 10 blocks from the shooting site,” said Det. Duffy.

“When we pulled up a photo of him --matched the description of our sketch,” Duffy continued.

“Did his hairstyle match?” Van Sant asked.

“Yes. And the age description matched,” Duffy replied.

The suspect sketch released by Seattle Police, left, and Dinh Bowman, right

The suspect sketch released by Seattle Police, left, and Dinh Bowman, right

And yet, 29-year-old Dinh Bowman appears to be the most unlikely of potential suspects. He’s a dazzling engineer with an inventive imagination -- like a Rube Goldberg contraption he created just for fun.

“The people that we’ve spoken to have described him as brilliant,” said Det. Duffy.

“A genius?” Van Sant asked.

“Others have titled him as a genius,” the detective replied.

Bowman was only 12 years old when he entered college. In his 20s, Bowman opened his own business -- a boutique engineering company called Vague Industries that specialized in robotics.

Dinh and Jennifer Bowman

Dinh and Jennifer Bowman

King County Prosecutor's Office

And then, in 2007, Bowman met Jennifer Palm, a successful dentist, at an education seminar. They were married a year later.

Jesson Matta was a friend of the Bowmans.

“I thought they were what I considered to be a power couple,” Matta said. “Very, very sophisticated.”

“What were they like as a couple?” Van Sant asked.

“Loving. The both of them, I think, understood one another,” said Matta.

But it was up to detectives Duffy and Clark to figure out Dinh Bowman -- and they quickly learned that he once owned a BMW.

“We wanted to know, does he still have that BMW? Is it still at his house?” Det. Duffy explained. “Immediately we came up with a plan that we’re gonna set up a surveillance on his residence.”

A tense week went by with no sign of the BMW coming or going. But then, the garage door opens up just enough for the detectives to spot a silver sports car.

“Based on that information--we’re able to obtain a search warrant,” said Det. Clark.

Before dawn on Sept. 21, 2012, as Dinh and Jennifer Bowman were leaving for work, police swooped in to arrest Dinh Bowman.

“Dinh was placed in handcuffs and transported down to our office,” said Det. Duffy.

Officer: Just to let you know, this is a police facility and everything is being recorded, OK?

Dinh Bowman: OK.

Dinh Bowman waits to be questioned by police

Dinh Bowman waits to be questioned by police

Seattle Police Department

Bowman has to wait two hours for detectives to arrive to question him. While he’s killing time, Bowman doesn’t appear to be concerned. He enjoys some snacks and a cup of coffee. Exasperated, Bowman complains his precious time is being wasted.

Dinh Bowman: I’m kind of getting a little annoyed at how long this is taking.

Officer: It has to take as long as it takes, OK?

“He was kind of confused about the whole thing. It was kind of weird,” said Det. Clark.

Bowman also didn’t realize that in another room, his wife, Jennifer agreed to answer questions from detectives Clark and Duffy:

Det. Dana Clark: Have you heard of any murders, like, within a few blocks of your house in the last few weeks?

Jennifer Bowman: I’m not sure.

Det. Dana Duffy: You’re not sure? It’s a yes or no question.

Jennifer Bowman: I’m not sure.

“We call it the ‘I’m not sure’ interview because her responses were overwhelmingly, ‘I’m not sure,’” said Det. Clark.

Det. Frank Clark: ...Your honesty right now is paramount for your survival.

Jennifer Bowman: I -- I understand. I’m not sure what I can tell you.

Jennifer Bowman didn’t know that the detectives had already inspected Dinh’s BMW and had discovered that the passenger side window had been replaced. Remember, investigators were certain the killer had fired through that glass.

“The first thing we did was open the passenger door and you could see glass shards--in the well of the door jamb,” Det. Duffy explained. “Also, within the garage there was this fresh smell of paint.”

That’s because the BMW’s silver rims had been painted black.

Det. Dana Duffy: What about the paint smell that we’re smelling in there?

Jennifer Bowman: I’m not sure.

Det. Dana Duffy: Do you know anything that goes in your house?

For nearly four hours, investigators hammered Jennifer for answers.

While the interview was going on, investigators entered the Bowman’s house, which was surprisingly bare.

“We knew that Jennifer was the primary breadwinner in that household. And we knew from serving some of our search warrants that she made -- probably $250,000 a year. But when we got into the home, she had hardly any bedroom furniture. Her mattress lay on the floor,” said Duffy.

Bowman post-it note

"Happy birthday to the best shooter in the wild west! Bang bang! Love love! XO XO"

King County Prosecutor's Office

In the kitchen, investigators found Post-it notes. Most of them were love notes, but one really caught their eye.

“It said something to the effect of, ‘to the best shooter in the wild, wild west. Bang, bang. XXOO,’” Det. Duffy said. “We found that very significant.”

As they went room to room, investigators discovered a small arsenal of weapons and ammunition -- everything except the suspected murder weapon, a 9mm Glock.

When detectives finally got to Bowman, they hoped he would answer a few questions. But Bowman was smart enough to shut down the interview:

Det. Duffy: Do you wanna talk to a lawyer or do you wanna talk to us first?

Dinh Bowman: Well, I guess I’d like to talk to a lawyer.

Bowman might have been done with the detectives, but they were far from finished with him:

Det. Duffy: You’re going to be charged with a crime.

Dinh Bowman: Of what?

Det. Duffy: Murder.

Dinh Bowman: Of what -- of who?

Det. Duffy: Murder of a human being.

Dinh Bowman: Okayyy.

BUNNY AND SNUGGLES

News Report: It was something to see. At least 45 friends of murder victim Yancy Noll packed arraignment court this morning to get a look at this man.

“You watch this person walk in and you see this unassuming person and you go, ‘Why? Why would you do this?’” said Yancy Noll’s friend, Brad Kenny.

Dinh Bowman has been in custody for four months for the murder of Yancy Noll and at a hearing, Bowman learns his bail is set at a stunning $10 million, a sum he cannot make.

“He hasn’t shown any sign of guilt or even fear,” Kenny sighed, desperate for answers. “It just fills you with so much anger.”

While Bowman appears stoic in court, prosecutors say the alleged killer has a quirky side that emerges in hundreds of recorded jailhouse phone calls with his wife, Jennifer.

“They had pet names. Dinh was Bunny and Mrs. Bowman, Jennifer, was Snuggles,” said Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy.

“Bunny and Snuggles?” Van Sant asked.

“Bunny and Snuggles,” McCoy affirmed.

“When they talk to each other they talk in baby talk,” said Richardson.

Jennifer Bowman: Bunny? Bunny? How are you?

Dinh Bowman: I’m doing good. How’s my little snuggle cake?

Jennifer Bowman: I just wrote you an email.

Dinh Bowman: Yay!

“It’s very strange, very strange,” said McCoy.

Dinh Bowman: I miss so many things right now.

Jennifer Bowman: I know.

Dinh Bowman: I don’t have a snuggles.

Jennifer Bowman: You don’t have a snuggle plum next to you.

“Everyone told us, ‘don’t listen to the jail calls, don’t listen to the jail calls.’ You’ll want to throw up,” Richardson commented.

Meanwhile, back among the grownups, detectives Frank Clark and Dana Duffy were methodically building their homicide case against Bowman. They discovered that, for years, the tech-savvy genius had been downloading books, articles and videos to his computer on the subject of death and murder.

“He definitely was someone who studied up on -- on killing somebody and -- and trying to get away with it,” Det. Clark said. “...and it’s not that he had a little of it. He had tons of it.”

And then there was Bowman’s obsession with James Bond. And it showed in Bowman’s computer videos, where he is seen driving a car at high speeds around an obstacle course and blasting away in shooting demonstrations where he proved he was an expert marksman with either hand.

“I don’t believe that Dinh Bowman ... got up that morning ... thinking, ‘Today’s the day that I’m gonna shoot somebody,’” Det. Clark said. “This situation presented itself somehow. But once it did, then all his self-training and research kicked in.”

And one of Bowman’s videos - made by a firearms expert -- really shocked police:

Training video: We’re gonna talk about shooting through glass.

Training video: I’ve come into a situation where I feel threatened by someone off to my passenger side.

“It was a play by play of Yancy’s murder,” said Det. Duffy.

“If you wanna know how to shoot somebody in traffic from your very fancy sports car, it was an awfully helpful video. He didn’t even have to roll down his window,” said McCoy.

Prosecutors came to believe Bowman wanted to kill someone just for the thrill of it.

“Why would he commit this murder in broad daylight where there are witnesses around who could see his car, perhaps see him?” Van Sant asked McCoy.

“What’s the fun of it if -- if there’s no challenge? If there’s no witnesses? If there’s no need to get away, to speed off and fly through neighborhood streets and hide your car in your garage? That was the fun for him,” she replied.

Soon after the murder, police say that Dinh Bowman went to his computer where he had his vast library of murder-related books, including, “Arrest-Proof Yourself.”

“How to cover up a murder, how to get rid of a gun, how to get rid of gunshot residue,” Det. Duffy said of the book.

And police say Dinh Bowman now had an accomplice: Jennifer Bowman, aka Snuggles.

“Jennifer to me seemed very, very nervous,” Det. Duffy told Van Sant. “Poor eye contact. I could see that she was shaky.”

Det. Dana Duffy to Jennifer Bowman: Do you understand how serious this is right now Jennifer?

Det. Frank Clark: Tell us the truth. Tell me the truth right now (slams table).

Jennifer Bowman never asked for a lawyer and handed over her purse where police found receipts that aided the investigation.

“Do either of you have the belief that Jennifer had prior knowledge of this attack?” Van Sant asked the detectives.

“I don’t think she had prior knowledge but I believe that at some point Dinh told her what happened,” Det. Duffy replied. “She had to know something because the next day she went to Portland with him.”

Det. Frank Clark: Why did you go to Portland?

Jennifer Bowman: It was just a little day trip, a little road trip.

A trip that led to the auto glass shop where, police say, Bowman began to cover up his crime with his wife by his side.

“She was very standoffish ... she didn’t say much,” repairman Jeff Shields said. “He just seemed like he needed a window right away.”

Bowman told Shields the BMW window had been shattered by a thief while he and Jennifer were eating in Portland.

Det. Clark: What time of day was the window broken?

Jennifer Bowman: We found it in the afternoon?

Det. Clark: Approximately what time?

Jennifer Bowman: It was right after we ate lunch.

But detectives say a restaurant receipt from Jennifer’s purse told a different story.

“They were never there for lunch. They went there at dinnertime,” said Det. Clark said of the receipt that showed the time as 7:09 p.m.

Three weeks later, the Bowmans visited a tire store in northern Seattle. Manager Doug Haskett says Bowman used the name “Peter,” while his wife avoided eye contact.

“She was a blonde and she just kinda looked at the ground,” Haskett said. “She wouldn’t talk to anybody.”

Bowman bought four cheaper tires to replace the expensive BMW tires.

“Why would he get new tires?” Van Sant asked.

“Because during our investigation, the media released that there were tire tread tracks left at the scene,” Det. Duffy replied.

Det. Frank Clark: Why did -- why did he get new tires?

Jennifer Bowman: I’m not sure.

Det. Frank Clark: What if we put you on a polygraph test today?

Jennifer Bowman: [No reply]

Det. Dana Duffy: You’d fail it like a sack of potatoes. I mean, I can tell you’re lying by just looking at ya.

Police say they later found the set of expensive, practically new BMW tires inside Bowman’s workshop at Vague Industries. The murder weapon was never recovered, but prosecutors felt they had enough evidence to try Dinh Bowman for first-degree murder.

And he would soon take the stand and tell a story he had long kept secret.

DINH BOWMAN’S STORY

Inside the evidence warehouse of the Seattle Police Department, Dinh Bowman’s BMW Roadster Z4 and Yancy Noll’s Subaru were side-by-side once again, just as they were on that summer evening in August 2012.

What brought them together that evening is unclear; the result of their encounter is not.

“What goes through your mind when you look inside this car?” Peter Van Sant asked Det. Duffy of Noll’s Subaru.

“Sadness. Devastation for Yancy,” he replied. “His family lost a loving member. ...Murder -- is very ugly. It’s never pretty.”

And now, on Nov. 19, 2014, two years after Yancy Noll was savagely gunned down, his alleged killer enters the courtroom to face the charge of first-degree murder.

“He, by the time of trial, looked like he was 13,” Prosecutor Kristin Richardson said of Bowman.

Dinh Bowman in court

Dinh Bowman in court

Dinh Bowman is transformed. Gone is the confident, cocky young man who first met with detectives.

In his place is what appears to be a clean-cut college student.

“This guy doesn’t look like a killer,” Richardson observed. “And that’s not at all uncommon for defendants to change their appearance in order to appeal to the jury.”

Bowman’s mother, a native of Vietnam and his father, a Boeing engineer, were in court every day to support their only child. But his cooing wife, Jennifer -- his “Snuggles” -- is nowhere to be seen.

In her opening, Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy tells jurors that the motive for murder wasn’t greed or jealousy, but something far more macabre.

“This was a fulfillment of a quest,” she told the court. “A quest to know what it would be like to kill someone.”

McCoy attempts to take the jury inside Bowman’s mind by showing the training videos recovered from his computer.

From video to thousands of pages of research on killing another person, prosecutors paint a portrait of a premeditated murder.

“It was the equivalent of the Library of Congress on death,” Richardson told Van Sant.

“Have you ever seen anything like this before in your career?”

“Not even close,” she replied.

“Why was all that stuff on his computer?” Van Sant asked Bowman defense attorney John Henry Browne.

“He hoarded information,” Browne replied. “You know, he had a lotta things on his computer that are totally bizarre. ...Having possession of it doesn’t mean anything.”

“Mr. Bowman was actually trying to create a library of basically everything,” Browne addressed the court.

Bowman’s lawyer, whose former clients include serial killer Ted Bundy, says there’s no evidence that Bowman ever read or watched any of these materials.

“There were thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of pages about ... engineering techniques. But also there was all this bizarre stuff that the prosecutors used in order to make up their motive,” Browne told Van Sant.

As the defense presents its case, Browne takes a big gamble and puts Dinh Bowman on the stand.

“...I felt like it was just this crazy bad dream, and, like, I was just run -- like, I was runnin’ from a monster,” Bowman testified.

And Browne knows he’s risking it all on Bowman’s ability to sway jurors and convince them that he was the victim of road rage.

“If I didn’t do something right then I was goin’ to die,” he told the court.

Bowman explains that it all began when he accidently cut off Yancy Noll on the interstate.

“He was -- there was sort of -- a stream of swearin’ ... I think the -- the -- the phrase that caught my attention was, ‘ You better learn how to drive that fancy car, dick-boy. Or you’re gonna get yourself f***ed up,’” Bowman continued, pointing his finger as if it were a gun.

Bowman says Noll closely followed him off the interstate to the traffic light where they both stopped.

“And it was that point that when I got WHAM!” he said, pointing to his head.

That “wham!” Bowman says, was a wine bottle thrown by Noll that hit him in the head.

“He’s an absolute liar,” Brad Kenny said. “That’s sacrilegious to Yancy. He would never throw and waste wine on somebody like that.”

“I remember seein’ his eyes really, like, bulgin’. And, like, as he was kind of -- as he was yellin’,” Bowman continued on the stand. “I would describe it as just, like, violent hatred that you would -- I’d only seen in the movies.”

“Did you think it was possible he had a gun? Browne asked Bowman.

“Yeah. I was scared,” Bowman replied.

Fearing for his life, Bowman says he pulled out his 9mm Glock, pointed it at Noll and fired.

John Henry Browne: You intentionally shot him?

Dinh Bowman: Yes.

John Henry Browne: Was it your intent to kill him?

Dinh Bowman: No.

“Road rage is, by definition, not premeditation,” Browne told Van Sant.

Bowman says he shot Yancy Noll in self-defense.

“I remember -- openin’ my eyes, seein’ that I had the gun in my hand,” Bowman told the court. “And I had just dropped the gun and stepped on the gas.”

Though Bowman claims he was the victim, he didn’t call the police. Panicked, Bowman says he collected evidence from his car, including the wine bottle and the gun, and threw it all away.

“The throwing away of the evidence -- that would support his own story? This is a guy who’s genius-level IQ, right?” Van Sant asked Browne.

“Yeah. But a lotta geniuses I know don’t have a lotta common sense,” he replied.

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: You threw away the ... evidence that you could show the police to prove you were not a criminal. Right?

Dinh Bowman: I didn’t think they would even believe me.

But prosecutor Kristin Richardson isn’t buying a word of Bowman’s story:

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: You don’t think that most husbands would go home to their wives and say, “Oh my god, I almost got killed?”

I figured, the more that he talked, the worse it was going to get for him,” Richardson told Van Sant.

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: You’re an expert shooter. What was your target?

Dinh Bowman: I -- there was no aiming involved in this.

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: ...OK. Well, you did a pretty good job, didn’t you? ‘Cause you hit him four times in the head, including the temple. Right?

Dinh Bowman: Um, that surprised me.

For three days, Richardson hammers away at Bowman:

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: You lied to your parents. You lied to your wife. Right?

Dinh Bowman: Is that a question?

Bowman never loses his composure:

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: Mr. Bowman, you have no trouble answering yes or no to Mr. Browne. Is there something wrong with the way I ask questions of you?

Dinh Bowman: No. That seems like a strange question.

Prosecutor Kristin Richardson: OK, well, that’s the first no I think I’ve gotten from you. So I guess the point’s been made. ... I have nothing else, thank you.

As Dinh Bowman steps down, the question is: did he convince the jury that he killed Yancy Noll to save his life?

“I think Dinh deeply believed ... the jury would see that,” Browne told Van Sant. “Self-defense is justifiable homicide.”

Or simply for the thrill.

“Is he guilty of murder in the first degree?” Richardson asked jurors. “Yes.”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

On Dec. 9, 2014 - more than two years after Yancy Noll’s murder, and coincidentally, Dinh Bowman’s 32nd birthday -- jurors begin deliberations.

“It’s the worst part of the job, waiting for a verdict. But it’s just-- it’s just the nature of it. You always doubt yourself,” said Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy.

One person not doubting himself is Dinh Bowman, as he confides to his wife, Jennifer, in recorded jailhouse phone calls:

Dinh Bowman phone call: We should chastise the jurors if they take longer than tomorrow ...

Jennifer Bowman has not appeared a single day of her husband’s trial, but she stays in constant contact and has no doubt whatsoever of his innocence:

Jennifer Bowman: ...This is obvious. They need to acquit. Like, how can they consider anything else.

Dinh Bowman phone call: You’d have to be completely irrational to believe anything else.

On day three, the jury returns with a guilty verdict.

It’s a total surprise to Bowman, but sweet relief to Yancy Noll’s girlfriend and his supporters.

“The verdict is read ... And what was that moment like for Dinh?” Van Sant asked Browne.

“Well, he was so emotionally upset,” the defense attorney replied. “He said, ‘I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.’”

Three weeks later, a very different-looking Dinh Bowman was back in court for sentencing.

The once cocky boy genius is gone as the reality of the guilty verdict sinks in and his parents step forward to beg the judge for mercy.

“I know this is my fault,” an emotional Hong Bowman addressed the court.

Defense attorney Browne must finish reading her statement.

“’Our son’s acts are our fault. My husband and I, we provided and allowed him to learn about guns for self-protection,’” Brown read aloud.

Browne, a seasoned trial lawyer, can’t help but show emotion as Dinh’s mother asks the judge to send her to prison in place of her only child.

“’I please ask you to allow myself to substitute any punishment by placing myself in Dinh’s role,’” he read.

“It was heartbreaking to watch his mother at sentencing...for her to offer herself in his place, to do his punishment for him. That’s real,” said McCoy.

Moments later, it’s Bowman’s turn, but Yancy Noll’s girlfriend and his supporters refuse to listen, even putting their fingers in their ears.

“I’m disappointed that the jury didn’t believe me,” Bowman addressed the court.

“...the first words out of Dinh’s mouth when he’s asked to make a statement at sentencing, is not about his parents or his heartbroken mother or Yancy’s friends or family. It’s, ‘I can’t believe the jury didn’t believe me.’ That’s his focus,” Richardson pointed out.

As the judge is about to deliver Bowman’s sentence, he has something he feels compelled to say.

“I feel very sorry for your parents Mr. Bowman and I want to tell them that it is not their fault. Mr. Bowman is responsible for his own actions.”

Dinh Bowman gets 29 years and one month, slightly less than the maximum. The case against him is over, but police feel there’s unfinished business.

“Was Jennifer misleading or dishonest or lying at any point during this questioning?” Van Sant asked the detectives.

“Yes, she was,” Det. Clark replied.

“I would very much like her to be charged with a crime,” said Det. Duffy.

--the crime of helping her husband cover up Yancy Noll’s murder.

“Frank, would you like her to be charged with a crime?” Van Sant asked Det. Clark.

“Yes, I would,” he replied.

Jennifer Bowman has changed her name and her job, but “48 Hours” tracked her down in Seattle.

“’Hey, Jennifer, Peter Van Sant, ‘ 48 Hours.’ Why did you lie to detectives? Why did you help your husband cover up a murder? You can talk to us ... no answers still.”

Ultimately, the state attorney chose not to bring charges against Jennifer and she in turn has cut off all ties with the man she once endearingly called her “Bunny.”

noll.jpg

Today, the house the couple lived in sits empty and the two cars at the heart of this case remain in a police warehouse. But the memories of Yancy Noll remain as alive as ever.


After the verdict, Dinh Bowman attempted suicide.

Jennifer and Dinh are now divorced.

  • Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"