EL PASO, Texas - BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: A jury has found Anthony Michael Bowden guilty of Murder for the killing of a transgender woman in August 2016.
A stone-faced Bowden had no reaction when the jury delivered its verdict.
The defense attorneys representing the Fort Bliss soldier accused of killing a transgender woman he met via Craigslist asked the judge to declare a mistrial during closing argument Thursday.
Spec. Anthony Michael Bowden is charged with murder in the killing of 36-year-old Erykah Tijerina in August 2016. Bowden claims he met the woman on Craigslist and met up with her not knowing she was born a man. Bowden further claims Tijerina raped him, exposed him to HIV and later blackmailed him by threatening to post photos of him online.
An autopsy reports states Tijerina was stabbed 24 times throughout her body. In court, prosecutors played a video in which Bowden confessed to stabbing and killing Tijerina with a chisel.
During closing arguments Thursday, Bowden's defense attorneys told the judge they did not know about the testimony of Chyna Fierros, a longtime friend of Tijerina and a fellow transgender woman. In court Wednesday, Fierros told jurors Bowden contacted her via a dating app about 10 days after Tijerina's murder. Bowden allegedly asked Fierros if she was willing to meet up to have sex.
Bowden' defense argued Fierro's testimony is "irrelevant and extraneous," arguing Bowden contacting Fierros for consensual sex does not mean it was consensual with Tijerina.
The judge decided to move forward with trial.
The defense told jurors Thursday its client acted in self-defense and claimed Tijerina coerced Bowden into sex by blackmailing him. "Avoid punishing a young man for acting in self defense," one of the defense attorneys told the jury. The defense further stated Bowden did not consent to being exposed to HIV, which it argued was deadly force, thus allowing Michael to use deadly force in self-defense. Earlier this week, the defense told the jury Tijerina had tested positive for HIV since she was 17.
Refering to the slain transgender woman with a male pronoun, the defense ended its closing arguments by telling jurors, "make no mistake about it, Eric was a predator, pure and simple."
In its closing arguments, the State told jurors Bowden is lying because of embarassment. Prosecutors said Bowden took "reapeated and deliberate" steps to have sex with Tijerina and he did not want his friends and relatives to know who he liked to have sex with.
Prosecutors agreed Tijerina may have blackmailed Bowden, but argued Bowden is just looking for a reason to justify the murder. "If he truly did not want to have sex with a transgender woman, he would not have gone through with it. He would not have reached out to her and he would have been physically unable to perform with her. He went to her," the prosecution told jurors.
The prosecution further argued that in a self-defense case, the person will normally call police to report what happened. "They will not have worn gloves (during the killing) and disposed of the victim's phone," a prosecutor argued.
The State also argued deadly force in self-defense is allowed in the face of imminent danger, but the danger was not imminent "given Bowden was allowed to leave" Tijerina's apartment. The prosecutors said Bowden "grabbed the chisel and gloves and went back to kill her."
(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez, writing by Jose Villasana)