State seeks life term, castration for Putnam man
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014 at 7:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 28, 2014 at 7:34 p.m.
The state of Florida is seeking a life sentence and chemical castration for a Putnam County man found guilty of kidnapping, raping and torturing a Daytona Beach woman in 2011.
Elmer Keith Bowman, 47, of Pomona Park, was convicted by a jury at the Putnam County Courthouse in Palatka on Wednesday of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or force and kidnapping.
Bowman is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday by Seventh Circuit Judge Carlos Mendoza, according to a press release from the State Attorney's Office.
At the trial, the 25-year-old victim testified that she was working as a prostitute in Daytona Beach at the time of the kidnapping. Bowman picked her up and put a knife to her throat, telling her if she screamed he would kill her, the release said.
Bowman then hog-tied her and drove her to his home in Putnam County, authorities said. At his home, he hung her from a beam in his garage and placed a tarp underneath her, threatening to kill and bury her, the release said.
During the 17-hour ordeal, Bowman forced her to perform sex acts, beat her with a leather belt and PVC pipe, and burned her thigh with a cigarette. He also placed a camera pointed at the victim and hooked it to a computer monitor and a TV, making the victim watch herself being tortured, the release said.
The victim waited until Bowman fell asleep before she escaped through a back door and ran to a neighbor's house for help, the release said. In a separate case, Bowman was also charged with 23 counts of possession of child pornography.
Assistant State Attorney Christina Opsahl, who prosecuted Bowman, said in the release that he planned the crime.
"He drove to Daytona Beach, looking for his prey," she said. "Everything that happened after the victim got in the car was not consensual."
The State Attorney's Office would not comment on why it had decided to pursue chemical castration in Bowman's case until after the penalty phase is over, spokesperson Klare Ly said.
In Florida, sex offenders can be sentenced to chemical castration in all cases involving serious sex offenses. According to Florida Statute 794.0235 passed in 1997, the court "may sentence a defendant to be treated with medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) ... if the defendant is convicted of sexual battery," according to the Florida Senate website.
Baylor Johnson, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that although the ACLU cannot comment on Bowman's specific case, generally they oppose involuntary chemical castration in sentencing.
"When the state forcibly administers medication that may have serious side effects, that practice raises serious concerns in light of the Constitution's protection against cruel and unusual punishment," Johnson said in an email.
Medroxyprogesterone acetate is a form of the hormone progesterone that is injected into men to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body, said Paul Doering, a professor emeritus in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida. The chemical is released into the body for a period of three months.
Doering first heard about chemical castration when it was introduced 17 years ago in the Florida Legislature. Unlike surgical castration, chemical castration leaves the man's testicles intact, he said.
"For particularly heinous sex crimes or inmates who have deviant sexual behaviors where counseling and psychiatry have failed to get the job done, drugs like this are used," he said. "The lower amount of testosterone leads to a lower sex drive."
Chemical castration is usually reversible once the treatment is discontinued, he said.
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