The prosecution is expected to rest its case this morning (Wednesday) in the murder trial of Arthur “A.J.” Bowers, who is accused of killing Jim Bolt at the Laurens VFW nearly 15 years ago.
The trial began Monday afternoon with 8th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Warren Mowry calling witnesses directly involved in the initial investigation of the case after Bolt’s body was discovered in a VFW bathroom on Sept. 26, 2003. Bolt, 76, was beaten to death.
During Tuesday’s testimony, Shawn Case was called as a witness for the prosecution. According to testimony, now retired Laurens Police Investigator Tony Lynch met with Case near a local hotel, and a tip from the woman led Lynch to “a carnie” with the initials “A.J.”
She testified that Bowers, who had arrived in Laurens with the fair as a 17-year-old, had attempted to purchase crack cocaine from her with bloodstained cash, which she did not accept.
Case, 40, said she had initially met Bowers at the home of her aunt, Brenda Roberts, at 114 Round Street in Laurens. On the night Bolt was killed, she testified that Bowers came to her Laurens hotel room wearing bloody clothes and with the bloody cash attempting to buy drugs.
Roberts, then 69, was convicted in April of 2017 of accessory after the fact of murder for washing and disposing of bloody clothing allegedly belonging to Bowers and her grandson, Randy Gambrell.
Eighth Circuit Investigator Walter Bentley, who was an investigator with the Laurens Police Department at the time of the murder, returned to the stand for a second time during the trial Tuesday afternoon before Judge Donald B. Hocker called for a recess at 4:30 p.m. The trial is to resume today at 10 a.m.
Bentley said the charges against Bowers, who served 23 months in jail, were dropped without prejudice (meaning the charges can be pursued again) by former Solicitor Jerry Peace over Bentley’s “vehement” objections.
“(Peace) told me that if I wanted to try the case, then I should go to law school, get my degree and come back and try it,” Bentley said.
Bentley said he began lobbying Solicitor David Stumbo to prosecute the cases against Bowers and Roberts after Stumbo’s election in 2012. Bowers and Roberts were charged with murder and accessory after the fact, respectively, in 2015.