2nd man sentenced in Loudoun couple’s beating

LEESBURG, Va. – A second person has been sentenced for a savage attack that killed a Loudoun County man and left his wife clinging to life.

On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne sentenced 22-year-old Darwin Bowman, an 18th Street gang member, to 43 years and five months in prison for his involvement in the vicious beating of the couple on March 22, 2009.

It was the maximum sentence under a plea agreement.

Back in 2009, William and Cynthia Bennett were taking an early morning walk when they were attacked by three men in a van in the Lansdowne area of Loudoun, an upscale neighborhood.

Bowman was the second suspect in the beating case to agree to the deal in exchange for not having to face a capital murder charge. And he will testify against a third suspect, Anthony Roberts who hasn’t been charged yet in this case but is in prison for another crime. In 2011, the first suspect in the case Jaime Ayala accepted a plea deal.

The judge says Bowman was the only eye witness, while the third man “destroyed Mr. Bennett with his bare hands and feet.”

Horne says he’s read more about this case than any other in his 50 years as a judge. Except in one or two other cases, this case had the most horrific set of facts.

“It’s indescribable. You can’t put this crime into words. The photos show the brutality of this crime, the barbaric nature of this crime,” Jim Plowman, the commonwealth’s attorney for Loudoun County, said in his closing statement Friday.

In an interview after the hearing he said, “There’s really no other way to describe it. It’s one of the more horrific cases I’ve been involved with in my career. I’ve had some bad cases. But this is one of the worst I’ve had to deal with.”

Plowman says it is a miracle Cynthia Bennett survived the attack. She will never be the same.

Defense attorney Meghan Shapiro pleaded with the judge to give Bowmen just 22 years in prison, citing his troubled childhood. The defense called on numerous witnesses to testify on Bowman’s behalf, including his mother and sister.

His mother testified that her son was the product of rape. She says when she was trying to get to the U.S. from Guatemala, her human trafficker raped her and held her captive for four years in Fairfax.

Bowman offered a heartfelt apology to everyone, especially the Bennett family, and said his client is through with gangs.

“I love my family so much. It hurts to see the pain I caused them. This has been a nightmare for everybody. I’ll forever be so sorry,” Bowman said during the hearing, crying.

After the sentencing, his mother, Dunia Bowman, cried as she left the courtroom.

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