By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
District Attorney John Young expressed surprise at the lengthy prison sentence meted out Tuesday to former Smithville coach Dwight Bowling.
“I thought that was pretty strong, much more than I expected,” Young said Wednesday about Bowling’s 300-month verdict from U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr.
Bowling, 56, likely will serve the rest of his natural life in prison, the district attorney speculated.
“I tell people they better think about the time before they commit the crime,” he said.
Last April, Bowling admitted he took minor males into Alabama for sex and that he tried to convince another man to lie about their longtime sexual relationship.
Pepper almost doubled the punishment recommendations of the U.S. Probation Service, saying Bowling’s crimes were likely to affect his victims for generations.
Young said he’ll ask Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. and Bowling’s state defense attorney, Lori Basham, for dates in which Bowling can be sentenced on Mississippi charges of fondling and sexual battery of young men.
Last June, Bowling made qualified guilty pleas to those charges.
Bowling was one of the region’s top high school football coaches before his arrest Sept. 17, 2010. He coached 28 years in Smithville, then retired and took a similar job at Sulligent, Ala.
Young said he’s sticking with his recommendation for a 50-year sentence to tack on to Bowling’s federal time.
“What he did, I think he ought to do more in state prison,” Young added.
Young wasn’t the only one surprised by Bowling’s sentence. His attorney, Christi R. McCoy, and prosecutor Susan Bradley admitted similar reactions after the hearing in Greenville.
As Bowling was led away by U.S. marshals, he encountered people in the courtroom audience. Among them were a victim and his family.
The teenager’s family clarified that encounter, which initially was thought to have been a taunt toward Bowling.
“He looked at me and my wife and said, ‘I hope you’re happy,’” the man told the Daily Journal on Wednesday.
Then, he said, Bowling proceeded to shout at them and one of his relatives confronted the youth’s father.
“All that yelling out in the hall – that was Dwight and the marshal yelling at him,” the man noted.