UPDATE 11/19/2014 4:15 PM: A “student of murder” is how prosecutors described Thomasdinh Bowman in the dramatic opening statements in the trial against the man accused of killing Capitol Hill QFC wine steward Yancy Noll. The first degree murder trial got underway Wednesday afternoon in a court room packed with Noll’s family and friends.
While prosecutors initially called Bowman’s alleged actions a “thrill kill,” on Wednesday they painted Bowman, 31, as a calculated killer who studied how to get away with murder. Prosecutors described in graphic detail how Bowman allegedly fired four bullets into Noll’s head and face while both men sat in their cars at a north Seattle stoplight in August 2012.
“He left Yancy Noll dying in his car. Two hours later he was having dinner with his wife,” said senior deputy prosecuting attorney Adrienne McCoy.
Bowman faces a 20-30 year prison sentence, plus an additional five years for using a firearm. He was calm and emotionless through the proceedings, wearing a light blue sweater and neatly combed hair.
Defense attorney John Henry Browne opted not to make an opening statement on Wednesday. After the proceedings, Browne told CHS he may use a self-defense argument in the case.
The trial will resume on Thursday. Browne said the trial would likely end sometime in December.
Original Report: The Death Dealer’s Manual is a 100-page book first published in 1982 that describes in detail how to kill a person and (supposedly) how to get away with it. According to court documents, Thomasdinh Bowman studied the book and others like it before he allegedly shot and killed Capitol Hill QFC wine steward Yancy Noll in 2012.
Bowman allegedly pulled up beside the 43-year-old Noll at a stoplight at 15th Ave NE and 75th and shot him in the head with a 9mm pistol — a scenario prosecutors say was lifted play-by-play from the manual.
Detectives also found Bowman, 31, had collected forensic science journal articles on car glass evidence and other issues directly relevant to how he allegedly carried out the shooting.
Initially prosecutors characterized Bowman’s alleged actions as a “thrill kill.” In a recent brief filed with the court, prosecutors painted Bowman as someone who went to great lengths to research and methodically commit a random murder. Upon seizing Bowman’s computer, police investigators obtained a trove of documents, videos, and books on how to carry out an assassination.
Bowman pleaded not guilty to the shooting in 2012.
After months of delayed hearings, opening statements in the Bowman trial are finally slated to start this week. Defense attorney John Henry Browne, who once represented serial killer Ted Bundy, did not file a brief ahead of opening statements.
Browne did request that the court prevent anyone in the courtroom from displaying anything to show their support for Noll. During Bowman’s 2012 arraignment hearing some of those close to Noll wore green ribbons to honor Noll’s favorite color.
In addition to being a skilled marksman, prosecutors say detectives discovered that Bowman made his own bullets and kept a gun room in his home filled with weaponry. Bowman also kept a journal where he allegedly fantasized about being a hitman and making a movie about it. According to the King County Prosecutor, detectives found a video showing Bowman at a 2011 shooting competition.
Police said an anonymous tip following the Noll’s death led them to start investigating Bowman, who was arrested several weeks after the August 2012 shooting. Upon searching his computer after his arrest, detectives found Bowman had viewed news stories on Noll’s death, visited the memorial Facebook page for Noll, and read articles on drive-by shootings. According to police, Bowman also left town the day after the shooting to replace tires and a broken window on his car and then kept it hidden until his arrest.
According to the Seattle Times, Bowman was a child prodigy who excelled at using computers from a young age. A Times reporter interviewed a 13-year-old Bowman in 1996.
Noll began working as the Broadway Market QFC wine steward in August 2010. Following his death, coworkers and customers expressed an outpouring of grief online and at a roadside memorial.