BISBEE — Defense attorneys asked a judge to dismiss the indictment against an accused child molester because they claimed the assistant prosecutor improperly influenced a grand jury when she presented the case to the panel.
But the judge denied the motion in the case of David Britton Bowser, the Hereford man charged with molesting a 13-year-old girl whose situation came to light after she asked a gas station employee to call for help after Bowser had taken her to the store.
Bowser’s attorney Wallace Hoggatt told Cochise County Superior Judge James Conlogue on Monday that assistant prosecutor Terisha Driggs’ opening statements to the grand jury implied that “the assault did in fact occur.”
“The prosecutor thinks David Bowser is guilty of sexual assault,” Hoggatt told Conlogue. “That was the message given to the grand jury, in violation of Mr. Bowser’s constitutional rights.”
Driggs read the admonition she gave to the empaneled grand jurors. She did not deny that she made the allegations against the 42-year-old Bowser.
“The state is making the allegations, absolutely,” Driggs said.
But she said that grand jurors know their role and realize that they are the only ones who can decide whether there is probable cause to proceed against a suspect.
“The state gave an admonition,” Driggs said. “The grand jury should know what to do with that admonition.”
“The statements that were made were simply a summation of the case,” Driggs added.
A grand jury indicted Bowser this past February on 16 counts that include luring a minor for sexual exploitation, giving liquor to a minor, kidnapping, sexual assault, molestation of a child, sexual conduct with a minor, domestic violence-aggravated assault impede breathing, placing victim in reasonable apprehension of physical injury, aggravated DUI with a minor in the vehicle and child abuse.
At a hearing in late February to determine whether Bowser should be released from jail on bond, Sierra Vista investigators testified that Bowser sexually assaulted the teenager in an apartment where a family member lives when that relative passed out after drinking vodka shots the afternoon of Aug. 12, 2019.
Police also testified that the teen lived in fear because she said Bowser had threatened that “something bad would happen” if she told anyone about the assault.
The details that emerged in the February hearing painted a picture of Bowser as an erratic alcoholic who is accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl he had known since birth, and whose relative he was dating, according to prosecutor and witness accounts.
Investigators also said Bowser’s own father told them that his son’s drinking problem is such that Bowser voluntarily installed an intoxilyzer in his truck to help “control his drinking.”
Both police and Judge Conlogue said they had never heard of anyone doing that.
The case came to the attention of Sierra Vista Police only after the girl ran into a Speedway gas station on State Road 92 last August and asked for help. The girl told investigators had persuaded Bowser to drive her to the gas station because she claimed her boyfriend would be there to see her for a few minutes.
The youngster told detectives that Bowser agreed to take her only after she promised the suspect that he could have his way with her once they arrived at his residence near Carr Canyon.
As they approached the Speedway, the girl told Bowser that she could see her boyfriend inside the convenience store, investigators said. Bowser stopped his truck and told the girl she had a “few minutes.”
When she asked for help, an employee at the Speedway called 911 and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, and later Sierra Vista Police, responded to the scene.
When Sierra Vista police arrived at the Speedway, the girl was sitting in a car with strangers who were trying to help keep her calm, said Youman and Sierra Vista Police Cpl. Justin Dannels.
Bowser, meanwhile, was in his truck, his pants and belt undone, his speech slurred, according to police. His blood-alcohol content was 0.245, more than three times the legal driving limit, investigators said.
Bowser was arrested for DUI that night, but was released from jail after he posted bond, records show. After Sierra Vista police interviewed the girl, they launched their investigation, but quickly learned that no one in the teen’s family knew about the alleged crimes.
Bowser denied assaulting the girl. Youman said Bowser told him that his DNA would not be found on her body and “that there was no reason why it would be,” Youman testified.
When DNA test results were returned by the Department of Public Safety in mid-February, Bowser was charged.
At Monday’s hearing, Conlogue disagreed that the statements made by Driggs to grand jurors qualified as “flagrant.”
Aside from requesting that the indictment against Bowser be dismissed, Hoggatt also asked that his client’s trial be continued. The trial was scheduled to start July 7, but both Conlogue and Driggs agreed to having it pushed back.
A review hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 13.