By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Talks continue for Smithville coaching icon Dwight Bowling to avoid a trial, set for March 7 in Greenville.
Bowling, who coached at Smithville High School for 28 years, faces possible life in prison on federal and state charges that he took minors across state lines for sex.
He also is accused of witness tampering allegedly to prevent a so-called victim from telling his story to investigators.
Even with plea deals, the 53-year-old Bowling could spend the rest of his life in jail, adding up prison time across at least four jurisdictions – federal, Monroe and Itawamba counties, and Sulligent, Ala.
His attorneys have pleaded not guilty for him during three arraignments.
Wednesday, defense attorney Christi R. McCoy of Oxford asked the U.S. District Court to delay his trial while she works across “multiple jurisdictions” about possible trials or plea negotiations. Only federal court has set a trial date.
Bowling is expected to face charges in Alabama, where he is accused of similar activities as head football coach at Sulligent High School.
Since his arraignments in federal and Monroe County courts, he’s been held without bond in the Oxford Detention Center. He faces other charges in Itawamba County.
McCoy and prosecutors met recently “to negotiate a resolution suitable to all involved,” she noted in her request for a trial delay and said the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not object. State charges include fondling, sexual battery and child exploitation.
The federal charges Bowling faces are one count of harassing a witness and four counts of coercing a minor into having sex.
In a Monroe County hearing, prosecutors played a secretly recorded a conversation in which Bowling encouraged one of the alleged victims to lie about whether they’d had a sexual relationship.
He was arrested Sept. 17 on his way home from a football game. A 13-year-old boy who was with Bowling at the time of his arrest also accused him of improper touching on several occasions, prosecutors said.