Yancy Noll killer sentenced to 29 years in prison

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Thomasdinh Bowman sobbed through much of the hour-long hearing (Photo: Bryan Cohen)

In an emotion filled courtroom, a King County judge Friday afternoon sentenced Thomasdinh Bowman to 29 years in prison for murdering Capitol Hill QFC wine steward Yancy Noll in 2012. Judge Bruce Heller said Bowman, 32, “showed an utter detachment from the terror he caused” and displayed an “extreme lack of empathy for another human being.” Heller noted that Bowman had no prior criminal record and the shooting appeared to be out of character, but the judge was not convinced Bowman acted out of self-defense.

Bowman faced a maximum 32-year sentence for the murder under state sentencing guidelines. Sobbing through much of the hour-long hearing, Bowman asked the judge for mercy in a brief statement he gave before the sentence was delivered.

“I pray for the friends and family of Mr. Noll… that they’re able to find some closure in this horrible chapter of their lives,” Bowman said. “I’m disappointed that the jurors didn’t believe me.”

Defense attorney John Henry Browne said Bowman was sorry for what he had done, and that Bowman expressed his remorse when he attempted to commit suicide by slitting his wrist in jail the day he was found guilty.

Friends and family of both Noll and Bowman packed into the courtroom on Friday to read statements and, hopefully, find some closure. Noll’s best friend and best man at his wedding Rick Glein asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.

“I miss having a cold beer with him after hiking,” Glein said, “He was like a brother to me.”

In December, a King County jury found Bowman guilty of first degree murder after one day of deliberation. Bowman shot Noll multiple times while both men sat in their cars at the intersection of 15th Ave NE and 75th. Jurors upheld the prosecutor’s claims that Bowman was a “student of murder” who sought a random target to kill. Bowman and Noll had never met.

During the three week trial, the defense did not call any witnesses to the stand to support Bowman’s claims that he shot Noll in self-defense following a road rage incident. However, Bowman’s attorney filed more than 30 letters from Bowman’s family and friends urging the judge to be lenient in his sentence.

Bowman’s parents, Thom and Hong, wrote about their son’s strong work ethic and his commitment to his wife and to Christianity. Both addressed the court on Friday

“With broken hearts we accept our son was the instrument in Mr. Noll’s death,” Thom Bowman said.

“As a mother my heart breaks,” Hong Bowman said. “I know this is my fault.”

The Bowmans said they never talked to their son during the trial and that Bowman asked his wife not to attend to protect her from “prying interests.”

Yancy Noll's family and friends embrace after the hearing (Photo: CHS)

Yancy Noll’s family and friends embrace after the hearing (Photo: CHS)

Several church officials, including one bishop in Vietnam, wrote letters in support of Bowman. In a written statement to the court, defense attorney John Henry Browne argued for the minimum sentence as Bowman’s actions represented “a marked deviation in an otherwise law-abiding life.”

Bowman testified that prior to the shooting, Noll threw a wine bottle and water bottle into his convertible while both traveling along I-5. Bowman said that he feared for his life when he saw Noll reach for something in his car. During the trial he said he didn’t remember firing the fatal shots.

Following the shooting, Bowman went to great lengths to evade police. He was arrested three weeks later when a tipster recognized a sketch of the suspect that police created with the help of witnesses. During the trial, Bowman said he threw away the bottles that he said Noll tossed into his car. During the sentencing, the judge cast doubt on the story, saying a man as smart as Bowman would not have thrown away the one piece of evidence that supports his story.

Prior to Friday’s sentencing, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg was adamant that the maximum sentence should imposed.

“He appears to have no sense of morality,” Satterberg wrote in a statement. “Thomasdinh Bowman is a very, very dangerous man. Any sentence less than the maximum jeopardizes community safety.”

Browne vowed to appeal the conviction after it was handed down in November. Under the law, Bowman could have asked the judge to have the jury consider a second degree murder charge. Instead, Browne said Bowman wanted to challenge the first degree charge head-on.

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. On Friday, Noll’s fiancee Jody Wirtz reminded the court that that grief may never fully subside.  “I miss Yancy every day. I was supposed to grow old with him,” she said.

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30 thoughts on “Yancy Noll killer sentenced to 29 years in prison

  1. Even given that the sentencing range went only up to 32 years (not nearly long enough), on what possible basis did the judge impose only 29 years?

  2. Its really a shame that you can intentionally take someones life and be sentenced to only 29 years.

    Does this type of conviction have any possibility for early release or will the full 29 years be served?

    • I agree. Since when does first degree murder not carry a sentence of life without parole? Bowman is pure evil, and this is a travesty of justice for Yancy Noll.

  3. Why is 29 years not enough? Most European countries have maximum sentences of 15 years, we’re one of the few modern countries that puts people away for so long. Prison is about taking someone dangerous away from the community and rehabilitating them, and 29 years is more than enough to do that.

    • The US prison system does not rehabilitate murders nor should it. If you murder someone you should be permanently removed from society.

      • As others have noted, the death penalty (however deserved) wasn’t an option. I understand the anger that he wasn’t sentenced to the max of 32, but seriously– if he’s not “rehabilitated” in 29 years, he won’t be in 32 either.

      • When I said “removed from society” I didn’t mean to death – although I can see it reads that way. I’d be satisfied if he were locked up and the key thrown away. But I understand he was sentenced within the bounds of the law.

  4. the sentence isn’t enough, but at least it’s in line with guidlines for the crime.

    Our little friend AndyO))) seems to think it’s way too much, but maybe he’s a friend of Bowman? Who knows.

    what I DO know is that Bowman researched ways to hunt and murder a human being with NO remorse. He then took steps to cover his tracks and attempted to avoid arrest. Death is the only appropriate sentence.

    • Death was never a consideration. For one Inslee removed it during his watch. For another even where capital punishment is allowed it’s only a revenge killing. It does not bring the murdered person back. Death penalty litigation goes on sometimes for a decade or more.

      You may feel good about a death penalty judgment but it is not the answer.

    • Andy didn’t say 29 years was “way too much”. He said it was way more than most European countries impose. Don’t put words in people’s mouths.

      • he certainly did.

        “Prison is about taking someone dangerous away from the community and rehabilitating them, and 29 years is MORE than enough to do that”

        notice he said “MORE”

        Based on his statement, the only appropriate penalty for Bowman is death.

      • you don’t seem to understand, Singer. HE HAS NO RIGHTS. He gave up the rights afforded society when he planned to execute another individual. He provided his victim no due process, no trial, no chance to defend himself. He merely exterminated him.

        less bleeding heart bullshit and more accountability is what’s appropriate here.

      • No, you do not understand. Vengeance does not factor in to what happens to him when he is found guilty. That’s fine for countries like Iran and China but the US should be above that sort of thing. Vengeance will not bring back Mr Knoll.

      • Is there any possibility of parole? I’m very glad to see him locked up. I agree with Satterburg he’s a danger to society.

        29 years, just shy of the max, seems about right. He won’t be the same person he is now… the world won’t be the same world he knows now. His punishment won’t be over when he’s released, and he’ll hopefully no longer be the danger he is today.

  5. “Friends and family of both Noll and Bowman packed into the courtroom on Friday to read statements and, hopefully, find some closure. Bowman’s best friend and best man at his wedding Rick Glein asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence.”

    Why would Bowman’s best friend and best man ask the judge to impose the max sentence?

  6. Is there any validity to the bottle throwing road rage from Yancy prior to the shooting? I read something about that earlier, but never got any clarification. By no means does it justify murder, it just seems quite a bit out of character for a guy who sounds pretty mellow to begin with.

    • Bowman said Noll threw a water bottle, then a wine bottle at him. This made him “fear for his life,” so he shot Noll. When got home he threw the bottles away because he felt the police wouldn’t believe it was self defense. So, he had no bottles to produce to corroborate his version of events. I felt it was a made up story myself; as the jury obviously did as well.

  7. thats right he better cry what a baby you SHOT someone and they died due to your actions!! BE A MAN STEP UP AND TAKE RESPONSABILTY!

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