Wolf Point Herald

Prosecution's Key Witness Takes The Stand Reluctantly

Editor's Note: Charles Bowen has been found guilty. This story and others posted after it offer in-depth coverage of the trial leading up to his conviction on June 6.


On June 4, day two of the Charles Bowen trial, the defense called multiple witnesses, including the prosecution’s key witness, Diana Nelson. 

“You don’t want to be here, do you?” Asked Mary Cochenour, one of the prosecuting attorneys for the state of Montana.

“No,” Nelson said. 

Cochenour explained to the jury that Nelson was subpoenaed to act as a witness and did not choose to speak voluntarily against her former boyfriend, Bowen. 

Nelson told Cochenour Bowen called her in January 2012 and that he was upset. She said Bowen told her he and Doyle had an argument and that Doyle pulled his hair and bit his face. Nelson said Bowen told her he and Doyle got out of his truck on the side of the road and were physically fighting when Doyle fell to the ground. Bowen allegedly told her he got in his truck and drove away. He allegedly told her he wasn’t sure if he had run over Doyle or not and said he still had Doyle’s coat in his truck.

Nelson told Cochenour she urged Bowen to go back to the scene. Nelson was also a longtime friend of Doyle’s. They had all lived in Jensen Beach, Fla., previously. 

Nelson said Bowen was acting strange. He told Nelson not to forget him and he said he loved her, which he had never said to her before. Bowen allegedly asked her not to discuss their conversation with anyone. 

Nelson did not contact law enforcement about her conversation with Bowen. She said she refused to give anyone information when asked about the situation. She wasn’t formally interviewed until 15 months after the alleged phone call because she couldn’t be located. A tip from Bowen’s roommate sent investigators looking for Nelson. They located her in Louisiana where she currently lives. She agreed to answer questions. 

The defense questioned Nelson about all the outside information she had received between the alleged phone call and her interview. They asked her detailed questions about the circumstances under which she was interviewed. Nelson said she was not interviewed against her will. 

In the prosecution’s re-direct, they asked Nelson how she felt about the situation. 

“Terrible,” She said. “It just needs to be settled.”

After Nelson’s testimony, the prosecution called several more witnesses, including Michael Kerley, Bowen’s roommate at the time of Doyle’s death, who tipped off investigators about Nelson’s alleged involvement. 

He said Nelson called him in March 2012 and said she knew Bowen. She said it was all an accident. What exactly Nelson said besides that was not specified. 

The prosecution then called Matthew John, a Williston Wal-Mart employee, who worked in the automotive part of the store. He changed Bowen’s tires Jan. 25, 2012. He testified Bowen’s tires were not in great condition, but were not completely bald. He said it didn’t strike him as unusual that he was getting his tires changed, but he did say the cleanliness of the exterior of Bowen’s car struck him as odd considering the snowy, muddy conditions of the North Dakota roads. 

Montana Department of Criminal Investigations Agent Mark Hilyard was the next witness. He explained the geographical location of some of the evidence items found at the scene. He said, initially, the case was a whodunnit. It was his job to pursue any and all leads. 

The prosecution brought in John Pulasky, a weatherman out of Billings, to testify about the weather conditions on Jan. 11 and 12. Pulasky said, after some extensive research, he could conclude the temperature in the late hours of Jan. 11 and the early hours of Jan. 12 were in the single digits, and with wind chill, could have reached several degrees below zero. 

Check back for coverage on the last two days of the trial.