Woman who waited more than 6 years for trial in Clay County will have case heard this week

Opening statements will be heard Tuesday in a case involving a woman accused of murder who has been in jail awaiting trial for more than six-and-a-half years in Clay County.

Viola Bowman, 60, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

On Nov. 7, 2012, her husband Albert “Rusty” Bowman was shot and killed in their Kansas City home.

Viola Bowman was arrested in January 2015. Prosecutors accused her of killing her husband and staging the scene to look like a break-in.

In March 2020, she rejected a plea deal that downgraded the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter. The deal included a five year sentence with credit for time served, meaning Bowman could have been released had she accepted the offer.

However she maintained her innocence, telling a judge, “I did not do this.”

A trial began in October, but ended because of potential COVID-19 exposures involving a juror and court staff member. A mistrial was declared.

A second trial began Monday with jury selection.

Bowman was highlighted in a Star investigation in November 2019, which found the state public defenders system routinely fails poor defendants by providing inadequate representation that falls short of constitutional guarantees.

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