Korean Bowden’s mother said she has struggled since September to make peace with her daughter’s death.
But when the man who killed Bowden, William Nazario, admitted Thursday in a Clayton County courtroom to stabbing Bowden more than 20 times, mother Jacquelyn Taylor offered a question, then words of hope.
“How do you say you love her … and you left us with memories of her?” Taylor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she asked him. “I asked God to love you.”
A Clayton County Superior Court judge sentenced Nazario to life in prison plus nearly a dozen 20-year sentences.
He will be 65 when he becomes eligible for parole as a part of the plea agreement he made with prosecutors, his attorney Lloyd Matthews told the AJC.
The 35-year-old convicted felon admitted killing Bowden at her home near Riverdale, then bounding and gagging her three daughters, ages 12, 9 and 4, before fleeing with the 9-year-old.
It was days before police discovered the death, and even longer before they could find Nazario and the middle daughter.
Of 26 charges against him, Nazario pleaded guilty Thursday to multiple counts of aggravated assault for the stabbings, felony murder and concealing a death.
Nazario also entered guilty pleas to multiple counts of aggravated battery – one of the children suffered a broken jaw and tooth – and to cruelty to children.
Prosecutors agreed to drop three counts of felony murder and charges of malice murder, kidnapping, rape and child molestation.
“He pled to felony murder so that he would be eligible for parole after 30 years,” Matthews said.
The life sentence for felony murder is to run concurrently with the each of the 20-year sentences, meaning the lesser sentences will have expired should he meet parole eligibility.
Bowden was raising her three daughters after receiving separate psychology degrees from Xavier University in New Orleans and from Georgia State University. She made sure her daughters were took part in positive activities that could help further their educations as they grew older.
“They were in cheerleading,” Taylor said in an interview late Thursday afternoon. “She told me, ‘Momma, this is their way to earn scholarships to college.'”
Investigators believe Bowden was killed on a Friday, just four days before Taylor’s birthday, and the timing of her death left an indelible mark on the grandmother now raising Bowden’s daughters.
“That was my birthday present" from Nazario, she said. “I don’t sleep at night.”
Family and friends said Bowden was beloved.
“She was an awesome mother,” friend Kim Mathis said.
Nearly 1,000 people attended her standing-room-only funeral.
“That’s how good she was,” Taylor said. “She touched the hearts of many.”
In court Thursday morning, Nazario took the stand to apologize to Bowden’s family, court officials said.
The girls’ father and Taylor testified at the Thursday sentencing hearing, the father telling the court Nazario shouldn’t be allowed out of prison, Matthews said.
But Taylor, who carried a placard with her daughter’s photograph on it, said she tried to have kind words for Nazario because she wanted to her daughter’s legacy to be a good one.
“I asked God to bless your soul and keep you safe,” she said.
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