BELFAST, Maine — The man accused of killing his sister and brother-in-law a year ago at their home in Waldo will not be freed on bail before his murder trial, a judge in Belfast decided Thursday afternoon.
Attorneys for Glenn Brown, 67, of Benton, tried to persuade Justice Robert Murray to grant him bail, saying their client is not a flight risk, has strong family and community support and had no criminal record prior to the Oct. 5, 2020 murders of Richard and Tina Bowden.
“Mr. Brown has a lot of support here today,” defense attorney Kaylee Folster said, listing the names of some of the many relatives, friends and former coworkers who were in the courthouse for the bail hearing. “They are here because they believe in him.”
Still, Brown is charged with murdering two people, a crime which was a capital offense in Maine before the state abolished the death penalty. That means that while his right to bail has not been extinguished, the court must consider the crime, the evidence and the history and characteristics of the defendant before deciding to grant it, Murray said.
In the end, the judge found that the severity of the charges against Brown and the probable cause evidence outweighed the mitigating factors such as his community support and lack of a criminal record.
“The court declines to set bail for this defendant,” Murray said at the end of the bail hearing.
Murray’s decision was met by tears and visible disappointment from Brown’s supporters and audible relief from those there in support of the murder victims.
Maine Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who encouraged the judge to hold Brown without bail, said that the accused murderer had the same amount of family support in October 2020 as he had today — yet the murders still took place.
“This was not spontaneous conduct. Instead, this was the intentional, preplanned murder of Tina and Richard Bowden,” she said. “That family support did not dissuade him.”
According to police documents filed at the time of Brown’s arrest last October, the murders appeared to be connected to a long-simmering family feud over the estate of Brown and Tina Bowden’s stepfather.
Brown, who turned himself in to Belfast police, initially told officers he thought he had shot somebody, then said he had shot “two exotic birds.” When pressed by police about where the shooting happened, he said it was in the area of his sister Tina Bowden’s house in Waldo. When officers rushed to the home, they found Tina Bowden dead and Richard Bowden showing only “faint signs of life.”
That night, state police detectives met with Brown’s brother, Mitchell Brown, 59, who said that he and his siblings had been involved in “an ongoing civil battle” with Tina Bowden over their stepfather’s estate.
He said that his sister had excluded the rest of the family from the estate, and that in the months before and after his stepfather’s death, she had “made their lives extremely difficult” and caused “an enormous amount of animosity within the family,” according to the affidavit.
Mitchell Brown told detectives that his brother did not speak of the family’s issues often, according to the affidavit, but he knew he was “very angry with Tina.”
At the bail hearing, Folster worked to show another side of Glenn Brown. Some family members wrote letters in support of him which were submitted to the judge, and his former supervisor, Sterling Hoak of the Sheridan Corporation in Fairfield, testified that Brown had been an exemplary employee who worked for the same construction company for more than 35 years. He worked his way up from laborer to foreman, Hoak said, and was respected, reliable and showed good leadership skills.
“Glenn always did what he said he would do,” Hoak said. “We certainly valued him as an employee.”
Brown retired of his own accord from the company several months prior to the murders, but the Sheridan Corporation was willing to take him back on as an employee if he was released on bail, Hoak said.
Folster told the judge that her client would be happy to abide by any conditions set by the court, no matter how restrictive. Brown, who has health problems and has undergone multiple surgeries while incarcerated, would be able to live at his daughter’s home in China, along with his daughter and his wife, the attorney said. He was willing to submit to monitoring via cell phone and also had secured $877,000 in real estate surety bail from four different properties.
“People are willing to put their homes up for him,” Folster said.
But Zainea argued that the severity of the crimes Brown is charged with precludes the granting of bail while he’s waiting for his murder trial, which is scheduled to take place in April.
She said that on the day of the murders, Brown went to a bank and withdrew $14,000 for his wife, which he left at Mitchell Brown’s house. Then he took his brother’s 9 mm gun, Zainea said, and stopped his car on the road where the Bowdens lived.
“He went to the residence and shot her at the back of the head while she was standing at the kitchen counter,” Zainea said.
Richard Bowden, who had been watching TV in another room, went into the kitchen, where he was shot, too.
“The state would argue that … [Brown] was clear-thinking and level-headed,” Zainea said.
Also,because Brown’s wife is going to be an important witness for the state, the prosecutor said, it wouldn’t be appropriate for Glenn Brown to live with her while awaiting his trial.
After the hearing, attorney Jeff Silverstein, who is also working to defend Brown, said that the outcome was not surprising.
“It’s not usual to get bail in these intentional murder allegation cases. It occasionally happens. It’s less likely to get when there’s a double charge,” he said, adding that it was worthwhile to try. “He had a stellar life up to now, with nary a speeding ticket. He also had pretty substantial family support and sureties in excess of $800,000. Nevertheless, these are difficult circumstances.”