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Former Fort Bliss soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing transgender woman

Anthony Michael Bowden, shown here in this 2006 booking photo, was an active-duty soldier at Fort Bliss when he was arrested on suspicion of murder in the Aug. 8, 2016 death of Erykah Tijerina.

EL PASO POLICE DEPARTMENT

By AARON MARTINEZ | The El Paso Times | Published: January 23, 2019

EL PASO, Texas (Tribune News Service) — Former Fort Bliss soldier Anthony Michael Bowden was sentenced to more than three decades in prison Wednesday after being convicted of murder in the 2016 stabbing death of a transgender woman.

Bowden, who was 21 at the time of the slaying, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by a jury that previously had convicted him of murder in the fatal stabbing of Erykah Tijerina on Aug. 8, 2016, at the Rio Grande Government Apartment Complex.

A jury of six women and six men deliberated for more than six hours over two days before reaching a verdict on the sentencing.

At the time of the incident, Bowden was a Patriot Launching Station crewman assigned to 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command.

Bowden had no reaction when the verdict was read, while Tijerina’s family and friends cried.

Bowden's mother wept as the sentence was handed down. He had been facing up to life in prison on the murder charge.

“We are of course disappointed in the verdict, but we respect the jury’s decision,” Bowden's lawyer, Rene Flores, said after the sentence was handed down. “The 35 years that were handed down today, of course, our client’s family is saddened, but we understand the jury’s decision. ... I think (the jury’s decision) was all the factors in this case. It was a very difficult case for both sides, understanding the community that has been impacted, and we understood it took its toll on both sides. That was a factor in their decision.”

Flores said Bowden has been quiet since the sentencing and will need “time to process what has happened here today.”

State prosecutors could not immediately be reached for comment.

The trial, which began Jan. 15, was being held in the 384th District Court with Judge Patrick Garcia presiding.

Tijerina, whose legal name was Eric Tijerina, was a transgender woman who worked as a prostitute, according to testimony.

Flores and co-defense lawyers William Ahee and Rebecca Spencer Tavitas argued that Bowden killed Tijerina in self-defense.

They claimed Bowden killed Tijerina after she allegedly raped him and attempted to blackmail him by telling military officials that he slept with a transgender woman and was her pimp, according to testimony.

State prosecutors Denise Butterworth and Elizabeth Howard argued that Bowden willingly had sex with Tijerina and went back to Tijerina’s apartment with the intent of killing Tijerina.

According to testimony, Bowden bought a chisel from a hardware store before meeting Tijerina.

During the meeting with Tijerina, Bowden left the apartment to get money from his car, but instead came back with the chisel. He then fatally stabbed Tijerina multiple times.

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©2019 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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