A jury on Friday convicted Sonya Taton, the woman accused of fatally stabbing Gregory Bowen with a fillet knife in 2019, on all counts, including the most serious, second-degree murder.
The consolidated trial, held in Courtroom C in Superior Court in Juneau, covered five counts. Four stemmed from Bowen’s death, while the fifth — first-degree assault — was for the non-fatal stabbing by Taton of then-boyfriend Michael Garrison on Feb. 13, 2016.
The verdict was read by the jury foreman about 2:15 p.m., a little more than 24 hours after the jury began deliberations, which included breaking overnight Thursday. Taton remained dispassionate for the reading, as she had for most of the trial.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 8, 2024.
Taton’s attorney, Rex Butler, requested Taton be moved from Lemon Creek Correctional Center to Hiland Mountain Correctional Facility as soon as possible.
After polling each member of the jury to confirm the verdict, Judge Phillip M. Pallenberg thanked them. “This has been a long trial, longer than most trials in Juneau,” he said. “Thank you for your attention, and most of all, your time.”
The trial began Nov. 2, with closing arguments Nov. 16.
Bowen was stabbed on June 17, 2019, in his home in Channel View Terrace Mobile Home Park. He was medevaced to a Seattle hospital where he died 12 days later.
Taton admitted she stabbed Bowen, but claimed it was self-defense, a case Butler attempted to make to the jury. He also argued that the incident involving Garrison, who was stabbed in the femoral artery, was an accident.
The prosecution presented 28 witnesses during the trial, including Garrison. Many of them were law enforcement. There were also several character witnesses for Bowen.
The leadoff witness was Mabel Pittman, who raised children with Bowen, and co-parented with him through the rest of his life. She testified about Bowen’s nature, including that he was never violent.
“He never laid a hand on me, ever, in my life, nor any of his other partners,” Pittman said, standing outside of the courtroom after closing arguments on Thursday. She said was 13 years younger than Bowen, and over the years of raising kids together she had plenty of opportunity to meet women he dated. He never introduced her to Taton.
Nick Nelson, captain of the fishing vessels Star of the Sea and Trinity, also testified about Bowen’s character. He started to mention another incident in which Bowen was injured by Taton, that time a cut to Bowen’s hand, but was stopped. He said he tried to convince Bowen to get away from Taton. That information wasn’t admissible at trial.
The courtroom was packed for closing arguments with friends and family of Bowen.
“It’s been so long,” said Bowen’s son, Wade Bowen, referring to the nearly 4.5 years that passed between the stabbing and the trial. “And it’s been a long two weeks.”
The verdict brought relief to Bowen’s friends and family for the same reason. Many of them sat through at least some of the trial, others for most of it.
Some of it had been incredibly painful, said Barbara Cadiente-Nelson. She and husband Norval Nelson, parents of Nick Nelson, own the Star of the Sea and Trinity, and worked with Bowen for 25 years.
“We weren’t prepared for what this was going to be like,” Cadiente-Nelson said after the verdict was read. “We saw videos that we didn’t even know existed.” She teared up recalling the footage of first responders helping Bowen as he lay on the floor of his home after being stabbed. “We heard his voice for the first time since it happened,” said Cadiente-Nelson.
Norval Nelson said it had been a shock. “It was one minute he was fine,” he said. “He was down there (in Washington State where he’d been medevaced) and everything was fine. He was doing good a couple of days later. Then he was gone. It was a real letdown.”
Asked what he thought about the result, Nick Nelson said, “justice has been served.”
Taton’s mother, Saldie C. White, stressed the importance of Taton being sent to Hiland Mountain as soon as possible. “She’s in danger at Lemon Creek,” adding Taton had been attacked twice.
Roberta Jack, who said Bowen was part of her family in Angoon, called him a “gentle, kind man.”
Jack addressed the overall tragedy of what happened, and the people affected. “It robbed the people who love him of time, especially his children,” she said.
“And another person’s family is looking at losing a child, a mom, a sister, to the jail system because of a senseless act.”
• Contact Meredith Jordan at email@example.com or (907) 615-3190.