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Grief takes the stand

Family of murdered student testifies at killer's sentencing

 by Matt Culbertson and Claudia Koerner
 published on Thursday, January 24, 2008

<b>30 PAINFUL YEARS:</b> Harold Bowdoin, father of the victim Deana Bowdoin, tears up as he tells the jury at the Maricopa Country Supreme Court  Wednesday about his daughter before she died./issues/news/703243
Jeffrey Lowman / THE STATE PRESS
30 PAINFUL YEARS: Harold Bowdoin, father of the victim Deana Bowdoin, tears up as he tells the jury at the Maricopa Country Supreme Court Wednesday about his daughter before she died.
 

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Several of the 14 jurors cried as Leslie James said she remembered going to her sister's apartment to pick out earrings to bury her sister in something no person should ever have to do, she said.

"But we didn't have a choice," James said.

James's sister, Deana Bowdoin, was a 21-year-old senior at ASU when she was raped and murdered in 1978.

James testified at a hearing for Clarence Wayne Dixon, who was found guilty last week of the 1978 rape and murder of Deana Bowdoin. The jury begins deliberating Dixon's sentence the death penalty or life in prison on Thursday.

"You know that no one should be brutally raped and murdered, especially on the quilt her grandmother made for her," James told the jurors Wednesday.

Dixon, 52, is currently serving seven life sentences or a minimum of 175 years in jail for unrelated crimes he committed at Northern Arizona University.

"Every parent's worst nightmare was my reality," said Bobbie Bowdoin, Deana Bowdoin's mother. "She would never hurt anyone. Why then was she beaten, raped, choked and then stabbed?"

Bobbie showed the jury pictures of her daughter during her testimony.

"This trial has brought a lot of memories, all of them bad," Bobbie Bowdoin said. "I know she'd want me to have a good life, but as much as I love her, I can't promise her that."

Deana Bowdoin's father, Harold Bowdoin, spoke of the last time he saw his daughter alive, at a dinner the night before her death.

"I told her I loved her very much, and I wished her well," Harold Bowdoin said during his testimony. "That was the last time I saw Deana alive."

For his defense, Dixon called James Aiken as an expert witness.

Aiken has been an administrator in the field of criminal justice for 35 years.

Based on the information in Dixon's file, spanning more than two decades, Aiken said he saw no reason Dixon couldn't be controlled in custody for the rest of his life.

"He will never get out of prison," Aiken said. "There will always be a [guard's] gun between him and the public."

Kimberly Carroll, a forensic psychologist and expert witness for the defense, disagreed with Aiken's assessment of Dixon.

Carroll cited records of several incidents where she said razorblades were found in Dixon's cell.

During her cross-examination, Dixon who is defending himself pointed out that he had never been disciplined for violence toward other inmates or guards.

Though the Bowdoin family could not suggest Dixon's punishment, they were able to highlight the pain Dixon has caused them.

Harold Bowdoin said when when he was told of his daughter's death, it was "like being stabbed in the heart."

He added that, upon receiving the news, he settled at the side of his bed and tried to prepare his wife for the worst shock of her life.

"Losing our daughter has been a horrendous blow. We will never get over it," Harold Bowdoin said. "No parent should ever have to go through this."

Reach the reporters at mculber@asu.edu and claudia.koerner@asu.edu.



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