Accused defends himself


A Carroll jury is to begin deciding today whether a 25-year-old Mount Airy man bought the malt liquor that contributed to a crash along Liberty Road more than a year ago in which three teen-agers died.

Milton Stanley Bowens Jr., who was indicted in June on two counts of furnishing alcohol to minors and one count of reckless rTC endangerment, represented himself yesterday before the jury of 10 men and two women that is to begin deliberating after closing arguments today.

He did not testify and called only one witness, his father.

The defendant offered no opening statement to the jury.

Mr. Bowens was not scheduled to have a jury trial yesterday morning when he appeared before Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. When his case was called for a bench trial, Mr. Bowens asked the judge for a postponement so he could continue to look for an attorney.

Noting that Mr. Bowens had already been told to get an attorney when he was arraigned during the summer, Judge Beck denied the request. Mr. Bowens then asked for a jury trial, a request that usually results in a delay of several weeks.

Judge Beck had different plans. A jury pool already had been called to hear a civil matter that was settled before the jury was selected. Judge Beck told Mr. Bowens he would get his jury trial if he walked across the hall.

It was not known whether Mr. Bowens would present closing arguments to the jury today.

If convicted, Mr. Bowens could be sentenced to five years in prison and fined $6,000.

Prosecutors contend that Mr. Bowens bought a case of malt liquor at a Mount Airy liquor store and gave it to two of eight teen-agers -- including the unlicensed driver -- who crammed into a stolen Toyota Corolla that, a few hours later, flipped over on Liberty Road near the Baltimore County line.

The driver, Donny Eugene Simms, was the state's key witness yesterday. Donny Simms told the jury that Mr. Bowens -- a cousin of his who also is known as Charlie Brown -- was a disc jockey at the Mount Airy amusement center where the teens had been dancing before the crash.

Mr. Bowens, Simms said, bought the liquor at Ridgeside Spirits.

Simms said he and others in the car drank the 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor at a Frederick County elementary school before they got back into the stolen car.

Mr. Bowens denied buying the liquor for the teens.

He said he did buy a case of malt liquor at the liquor store adjacent to the amusement center. But he said he put it in the truck of his girlfriend's car, drank two bottles, then put the rest of it on the porch of his house.

His father told the jury he remembers coming home that night and finding the case of beer on his porch.

"I went to the liquor store, and I asked him if my son bought the liquor for the teen-agers, and they said no," his father, Milton Stanley Bowens Sr., testified. "They told me, 'No.' "

When the indictment against Mr. Bowens was returned, Arthur Simms, the father of Donny Simms and Donna Michelle Simms, one of the 15-year-old victims, said he was glad the defendant would have to face charges in court.

Mr. Simms and his family suffered a double tragedy in the wreck: Donna died instantly, and Donny later was convicted of automobile manslaughter.

Donny Simms is serving a year under house arrest and is completing 500 hours of community service. He will not be allowed to drive a car for three years.

The Simms siblings and six other teen-agers were in the Corolla when it crashed June 6, 1993, near a bridge on Liberty Road

near Liberty Reservoir.

Six of them were thrown onto the road as the car went out of control and flipped onto its roof.

Donna and friends Dink Diggs of Mount Airy and Christopher Norris of Marriottsville, both also 15, were pronounced dead at the scene.

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