Shotgun advertised on Facebook a focus in Loudoun Co. murder trial of son

LEESBURG, Va. — The 12-gauge shotgun that prosecutors say was used to kill Mario Bowles in his Loudoun County home — allegedly by his grown son — will be a key piece of evidence in an upcoming murder trial.

Michael Bowles was indicted on seven counts, including first-degree murder, after prosecutors say he fatally shot his father in July, then set fire to their family home to conceal the crime.

A motion from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy McMullen said prosecutors plan to submit DNA evidence found on Michael Bowles’ Savage Arms/Stevens Model 320 shotgun in his trial, which is scheduled to begin in September.

Prosecutors believe Michael Bowles bought the gun from a high school friend, James Nowland, who had posted a photo of the shotgun on his Facebook page, saying he wanted to sell it. In July 2016, the two met in the Leesburg Walmart parking lot, and he sold the weapon to Bowles, Nowland testified in an earlier pretrial hearing.

Prosecutors filed a motion, asking a judge to compel Nowland to travel from a neighboring state to testify, saying he will be a key witness in the case against Bowles. A judge granted the motion.

DNA evidence analysis from the Commonwealth’s Department of Forensic Science determined an astronomically high likelihood that Mario Bowles’ blood was discovered on the barrel and muzzle area of the shotgun.

However, DNA found near the trigger was less-conclusive, because it was a mixture of more than one DNA source.

The Feb. 23 report, by forensic scientist Kelly Loynes, indicated that more study of the DNA mixture profile will be done.

DNA testing was also done on a bloodstained pair of shorts owned by Michael Bowles. Loynes believes the blood belonged to his father.

Before Michael Bowles was indicted, psychiatrist Sabah Hadi testified that he diagnosed Bowles as a high-functioning schizophrenic in 2014.

Bowles resisting taking his medication, Hadi testified, resulting in delusions, paranoia, hallucinations and fights with his parents.

Bowles’ attorney, Ryan Campbell, declined to comment.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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