A financial consultant has been indicted on charges of manslaughter and reckless endangerment in connection with the death of a 20-year-old woman who authorities say died from inhaling chloroform in his Ellicott City home.
A Howard County grand jury indicted Melvin Robert Bowers Thursday in the Sept. 6 death of Geneva Marie Hodge of Baltimore. Mr. Bowers, 50, also is charged with inhaling harmful substances.
Deputy Public Defender Louis Willemin, who is representing Mr. Bowers, said that he did not expect the indictment. "I was disappointed," Mr. Willemin said. "I thought they were going to rule it an accident."
The indictment transfers the case from Howard District Court to Circuit Court. No proceedings for the case have been scheduled yet.
Mr. Bowers, of the 2800 block of Southview Road, would face a maximum sentence of 15 1/2 years in prison if convicted.
Mr. Willemin declined to comment on how he will defend Mr. Bowers, noting that he had not yet reviewed police reports.
An autopsy by state medical examiners revealed that the 20-year-old Baltimore woman died after inhaling chloroform, but medical examiners were not able to determine whether the death was accidental or a homicide.
Mr. Bowers, a divorced certified public accountant with four children, called authorities about 3:50 p.m. Sept. 6, reporting that Ms. Hodge had stopped breathing and that his efforts to resuscitate her had failed, police said. Investigators estimated that Ms. Hodge had been dead for as long as 12 hours before the emergency call.
Police said Mr. Bowers told them he had last seen Ms. Hodge conscious the night before when he applied chloroform over her nose and mouth because she had a toothache.