Riddick Bowe was sentenced to 30 days in prison Tuesday for kidnapping his wife and five children and ordered to get treatment for his boxing brain injuries.
Judge Graham Mullen said the damage from the blows to the head persuaded him to be lenient. Before the judge imposed the sentenc%,
+the 32-year-old former heavyweight champion apologized to the court and his family.
"I hope I can get this treatment so I can go on and be a productive member of society," he said in a barely audible voice.
His wife, Judy Bowe, did not attend the sentencing.
When the sentence was handed down, Bowe showed no emotion, but later smiled broadly. He could have been sentenced to 1 1/2 to 2 years in federal prison for the abductions Feb. 25, 1998.
"Without this brain injury and substantially reduced capacity, this matter would not have happened," Mullen said. The judge said statements by family convinced him Bowe never intended violence.
Bowe pleaded guilty in June 1998 to a federal interstate domestic violence charge as part of a plea bargain. He initially faced federal kidnapping charges.
He also must serve four years' probation and six months' house arrest after he is released from prison. He was fined $5,000 and ordered to continue treatment for his brain injuries. Bowe will remain free until a place at the federal penitentiary at Butner, N.C., becomes available.
Mullen ordered Bowe to stay out of the boxing ring until his probation ends.
Bowe outpointed Evander Holyfield for the undisputed heavyweight title on Nov. 13, 1992. He lost the WBC title when he didn't fight Lennox Lewis. He lost the WBA and IBF titles when he was decisioned by Holyfield on Nov. 6, 1993.
Two years ago, Bowe went to Judy Bowe's Charlotte home and threatened her with a knife, handcuffs, duct tape and pepper spray. He forced her and the youngsters into a vehicle and set out for his Fort Washington, Md., home.
At a restaurant in South Hill, Va., Judy Bowe called her sister in North Carolina, who guided police to the restaurant. She was superficially stabbed, reportedly by Bowe. Mullen said Tuesday he concluded the wound was inflicted negligently, not intentionally.
His lawyer, Johnnie Cochran Jr., who successfully defended O.J. Simpson, did not attend the sentencing. He argued during the two-day hearing that the sentence Bowe agreed to accept under the plea bargain should have been reduced because his brain injuries impaired his judgment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Bell declined to say if the government will appeal. It has 30 days to do so.
"The court found that he did it with no violence," he said. "We disagree."
Bell also referred to the sentence as "the boxer's exception."
"I don't think there's anything like a boxer's exception," said defense attorney Billy Martin. "He is suffering now, and he was at the time."
Bow said he has learned from his mistake.
"I think first and foremost I have a different outlook on life," he said outside the courthouse. "As far as anything other than that, I'll have to wait and see what happens."
Dr. Thomas Ryan, a neural psychologist who examined Bowe at the request of prosecutors, testified that Bowe had mild to moderate brain damage, but didn't think it seriously impaired his judgment.
"That would be a major leap to say mild to moderate brain damage caused him to do what he did," Ryan said.
Dr. Peter Puzio, a neurologist who also examined Bowe, testified Tuesday that treatment programs are available in federal prison for the kind of brain injury from which Bowe suffers. He described the syndrome as common in former boxers.
On Monday, forensic psychiatrist Neil Blumberg said Bowe underwent a personality change because of his brain injuries and believed that could have caused him to drive to North Carolina and abduct his family.
"It was a direct primary contributor to the offense," Blumberg said.
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed