Raleigh County Circuit Judge Darl Poling has denied a motion for two new expert witnesses to testify on behalf of Christopher Wayne Bowling.
Bowling, formerly of Daniels, was convicted of the January 2010 murder of his 34-year-old wife, Tresa.
Last month, defense attorney Robert Dunlap argued Bowling had ineffective counsel at his 2011 murder trial. Dunlap asked the court to allow a firearms expert to testify, as well as a pre-trial publicity expert.
Dunlap said a review of the trial transcript would show his client “didn’t have the benefit of an adequately prepared expert witness.”
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller objected to both motions, arguing the matters have previously been settled.
During the 2010 incident, Bowling claimed that while sitting on the couch next to Tresa, he removed his handgun he routinely kept in his back pocket and he noticed the gun’s slide was out of battery. Bowling claimed that while attempting to fix the gun, it fired unexpectedly, shooting Tresa in the head.
After an appeal with the state Supreme Court in 2012, the justices reviewed each of the seven errors and ruled in October 2013 that none of the alleged errors had impacted the ruling of the case. Two justices dissented, and in his opinion, former Justice Menis Ketchum called the situation a “mess of a trial.”
Poling raised a number of issues with the defense motion last month for new expert testimony, but gave Dunlap time to review prior case law and file a response.
In his order issued July 31, Poling noted the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals had already ruled on the issues raised. He said the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, based on trial counsel’s selection of expert witnesses, is not a constitutional issue.
“(A)ny potential facts or evidence which could be obtained by hiring the experts requested by the Petitioner would be evidence that was available at the time of the trial and should have been introduced at that time,” Poling wrote.
In his denial of the motion, Poling said the defense had failed to provide any legal basis for reconsideration.