The victim in Incident A was attacked while returning to her car at about 2 a.m. Dec. 23, 1990, from having coffee and breakfast at a diner in New Hyde Park near the border of Queens. She described her abductor as a white male, 25 to 30 years old, about 5-feet, 7-inches tall, heavy, with a stocky build, dark wavy hair and full moustache. He wore a dark leather or vinyl “bomber” style jacket, hooded gray sweatshirt and ran to her car once she entered it, opening the door and pointing a gun at her “that looked like a .38,” reads court papers. Parking across Union Turnpike on Lakeville Road, he then sodomized and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Afterward, he drove back to the diner, wiped the steering wheel with his sleeve, put the keys on the exterior of the windshield and walked away.
Incident B occurred about a month later, say court documents. Two 17-year-olds left a pool hall at 260th and Union Turnpike and were walking to a friend’s house around 11 p.m. Jan. 29, 1991, when a white male, about 30, 5-feet, 8-inches tall with a medium build, brown eyes, brown hair, a moustache and wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt, approached them from behind, put a small silver handgun to one of their necks and led them to a nearby driveway.
After fondling one of the victim’s breasts and fumbling with her belt in an attempt to open it, he left.
Incident C also involved two victims, this time walking home around 3 a.m. May 7, 1991 from a bar on Austin Street, halfway through a pedestrian tunnel under a parkway. The attacker approached the women from behind, asked if they had any money or jewelry and put a “silver revolver” to the head of one. He grabbed both their arms and forced one woman to sit, unzipped his pants and forced her to perform oral sex. They described their assailant as white, male, about 25 years old, 150 to 160 pounds, 5-feet, 8-inches tall, “a wandering left eye,” short black wavy hair, a moustache and wearing black gloves, acid-wash jeans and a black leather jacket.
Both Bower and Perez fit these descriptions, to an extent. So much so, explains Huff, that when he showed one of the victims of Incident C Perez’ photo, she remarked, “Oh, my God, he’s got a brother!” Huff obtained a signed affidavit from her stating that she could have been mistaken when she fingered Bower as her attacker.
So with Bower still maintaining his innocence, he went to trial. Instead of separate trials, though, the two Queens cases were combined and actually tried twice after a near-acquittal. Bower was found guilty in incidents A and C, but acquitted in B. He was given 10 to 30 years for the Queens conviction and was offered a plea deal of two to six years for the Nassau case. In addition, he was offered a deal in which if he pleaded guilty, he would receive no additional time and reversal of it if he got the Queens conviction reversed on appeal.
Bower was convinced to accept the offer. But prior to sentencing, says Huff, there was something that Bower didn’t know.
“When a guy goes for sentencing, there’s what is called a pre-sentence report usually done by a parole officer,” he explains. “The parole officer goes to Bower—to get this pre-sentence report done that they have to give to the judge and the judge looks at this—and, when they asked Bower how he committed the crime, he couldn’t tell them. Because he didn’t commit the crime. So he breaks down crying, says, ‘I didn’t commit the crime. How can I tell you how I did it?’”
The judge then ordered the case to trial. Based on eyewitness testimony from the victim, the testimony of a “druggie” prisoner who claimed Bower had confessed to him, says Huff, and the introduction of a .38 revolver—presented to the jury as if it was Bower’s, he adds, even though Bower did not own any real weapon [he did possess a pellet gun]—he was found guilty.
“Number one, Bower shouldn’t have been convicted,” retorts Huff. “And number two, to give that guy 18 to 47 after telling him you’ll give him four if he pleads guilty—that is really, honestly, punishing a guy for asking for his right to a trial.”
Yet despite Bower’s arrest, the Silver Gun Rapist attacks continued.
And unbeknownst to Bower or his defense attorney at the time and only unearthed by Huff and his crew years later—thus becoming a major crux of Goldberg’s motions to have Bower’s convictions thrown out—was the fact that Perez had been arrested for two Pattern #1/91 attacks, committed one and three months after Bower’s arrest. Had Bower’s defense been informed, Goldberg tells the Press, Bower’s cases would have “disappeared.”
Tags: cover, Cover Story, DCJS, Department of Correctional Services, Division of Criminal Justice Services, DOCS, Douglaston Mall, featured, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gary Tepperman, Internal Affairs, James Hughes, James Smith, Jeremy L. Goldberg, Judge Sandra L. Townes, Linda Keenan, Long Island, Margaret Bower, Mellon Head, Michael Perez, Nassau, New York City Police Department, Paul Shechtman, Queens District Attorney’s Office, Ronald Bower, Silver Gun Rapist, Steven Bower, Timothy Huff, Vito Navarra