A Maryland woman convicted of killing two of her adopted daughters and storing their bodies in a freezer was sentenced today to double life sentences without parole, plus an extra 75 years.
"You sentenced these two young innocent children in the dawn of their lives to a death chamber, and for you that option is not available," Montgomery County Circuit Judge Michael J. Algeo told Bowman before handing down the maximum sentence. The crimes are not eligible for the death penalty in Maryland.
Bowman showed no emotion during the hearing.
"I am very sorry for the abuse of the girls," Bowman told the judge in an even voice. "It haunts me. It haunts me every day."
Last month, a Montgomery County jury had convicted Renee Bowman, 44, of two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree child abuse.
The case began in September 2008, after a third adopted daughter of Bowman's escaped their house by jumping out a window. While investigating allegations of child abuse, the Calvert County Sheriff's Department discovered two bodies in a freezer. The bodies were those of Jasmine and Minnet Bowman, believed to be ages 7 and 9 when they died.
Prosecutors said Bowman killed them while the family was living in Rockville and took the freezer with her when the family moved first to Charles County and later to Lusby, in Calvert County.
Bowman's lawyers maintain that she did not kill the girls, though they acknowledge she is guilty of abusing them. Deputy State's Attorney John Maloney said the evidence shows the children were smothered to death and that Bowman acted deliberately.
Public defender Alan Drew said the defense would appeal the murder convictions, but he declined to comment further.
Bowman kept the two young girls' bodies on ice for months while she continued to collect subsidies paid to parents who adopt special-needs children in the District of Columbia. She received a total of about $150,000 after the adoptions.
Bowman had already been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to abusing the surviving daughter, who is now 9 years old and living with foster parents. She testified at the trial about the abuse she and her sisters endured -- being beaten with a baseball bat and shoes and choked until they lost consciousness. She referred to Bowman as her "ex-mother."
"Renee Bowman's crime was brutal almost beyond human comprehension," said John J. McCarthy, state's attorney for Montgomery County. "Given the opportunity as an adoptive parent to change the lives of three children, she violated that trust in unimaginable ways."
Prosecutors had asked for life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder convictions.