Opening statements in the first-degree murder trial of Thomasdinh “Dinh” Bowman got under way Wednesday afternoon in King County Superior Court.
Bowman, 31, is accused of pulling his BMW Z4 convertible alongside Yancy Noll’s car at a stoplight at 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 75th Street on Aug. 31, 2012, and firing through his window, killing the popular 43-year-old wine steward, according to prosecutors.
Before a packed gallery, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Adrienne McCoy told the jury Bowman “fantasized, researched and prepared for the opportunity to kill another human being” and that summer evening, “an unarmed, unsuspecting Yancy Noll became the defendant’s target.”
McCoy said the fatal shooting wasn’t preceded by an argument or a road-rage incident, as police initially thought. Instead, she said, Bowman was “a student of murder” and “a skilled marksman” who wanted to know what it would be like to take a life.
Detectives “had no idea they were looking for a student of murder, for someone for whom the murder was the motive,” she said.
Defense attorney John Henry Browne objected to some of McCoy’s statements about his client but was overruled by Judge Bruce Heller. Questioned by the judge, McCoy said the state intends to prove everything she said in her opening.
Browne said the defense will reserve making an opening statement until after the state has finished presenting its case.
Bowman is also accused of trying to cover up the crime by driving to Portland and paying cash to have his window replaced, hiding the convertible in his garage and replacing its tires. He dismantled the 9 mm handgun used in the shooting and hid its pieces in different locations, charging papers say.
McCoy and Senior Deputy Prosecutors Kristin Richardson also said in their trial brief, filed earlier this month, that Bowman fantasized about being an assassin and stored hundreds of books, articles, manuals and videos on his computer “dealing with how to be an assassin, how to commit murder, ‘snuff’ films, autopsies, methods of committing crimes, marksmanship, gunsmithing, forensic investigation, homicide investigation, and interrogation.”
Witnesses to the shooting helped a police artist come up with a sketch of Noll’s killer, and a tipster who knew Bowman later provided Seattle police homicide detective’s with his name after the sketch was made public. For nine days, detectives staked out Bowman’s house before arresting him on Sept. 21, 2012. He has been in custody in the King County Jail since then, held on $10 million bail.
Following his arrest, Bowman invoked his right to remain silent and did not give a statement to police.
Browne, one of Bowman’s defense attorneys, said earlier this month the case can be characterized as a road-rage incident and intimated that Bowman may argue he acted in self-defense.