NASHVILLE – Rose Delores Vincent pleaded guilty Thursday to shooting and killing Julie Bowling in December 2006, admitting that the homicide was part of a plot to pursue a romantic relationship with Bowling's husband.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Vincent pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
The deal may have spared Vincent her life. She originally was charged with first-degree murder and faced the death penalty if convicted.
In exchange for softer sentencing, Vincent agreed to testify against Mark Bowling, a Rocky Mount funeral home director who prosecutors believe plotted his wife's murder.
Vincent, 27, was sentenced to no less than 28 years and four months and no more than 35 years and six months in prison under the agreement. She is married and has three young children.
Vincent's defense team of Rick Hamlett and David Braswell have been negotiating the plea bargain for more than a year. They reached the agreement Wednesday, Vincent's lawyers said.
"I thought it was a good agreement for my client under the circumstances," Hamlett said after the hearing.
Mark Bowling, 36, who also appeared during a short hearing Thursday, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of his wife, 45-year-old Julie Bowling, who was gunned down on Dec. 8, 2006, in her garage on River Glenn.
Showing little emotion Thursday, Vincent briefly addressed Julie Bowling's family and friends who were in the courtroom.
"I want to tell the family I'm sorry for what I've done," said Vincent, mumbling as she turned
to face the family.
N.C. Superior Court Judge Quentin Sumner told Vincent to repeat the apology so the entire courtroom could hear.
Assistant District Attorney Keith Werner read excerpts from Vincent's confession, which she submitted to police a day after Bowling was found dead.
Prosecutors intend to use the statement against Mark Bowling, who faces the death penalty if convicted.
Vincent admitted to shooting Julie Bowling and identified Mark Bowling as the man who plotted the murder in her confession.
"He said this was the only way we could be together," Vincent said of Bowling in the confession. "He's promised me everything under the sun, but all I wanted was to be with him."
Vincent told police that Mark Bowling urged her to kill his wife the weekend of Dec. 8, while he would be in Florida, according to the transcript. Leading up to the weekend, Vincent asserted that Bowling provided her with a detailed description of his wife's schedule and suggested the best time to attack.
Vincent told police she approached Julie Bowling after she got out of her car.
"'That is when she saw me and she freaked,'" Werner said, reading Vincent's testimony. "'I shot her until the gun stopped.'"
A trial date has not been set for Mark Bowling, but his attorneys said they hope to schedule a date within the next month.
No motions were filed during Bowling's hearing Thursday.
The defense and prosecution agreed to meet later in the month to schedule a trial date.
Bowling's defense team of Tommy Moore and Tom Sallenger, claiming that intense media coverage would prevent a fair trial, said they intend to request a change of venue during a March 31 hearing.
Sumner issued a gag order for the case last month, which prevents attorneys and court officials from commenting to the media about the case.