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Matthew Bowman shot and killed Jimmy Harold Tillery using an AK-47 clone (above) in 2015. Last week, after a long delay, a jury cleared Mr. Bowman of all charges. Here’s how it went down . . .

Jimmy Tillery and his wife Cheryl separated in 2015. Mrs. Tillery and Matthew Bowman were in a relationship.

On July 20, after an incident where Jimmy Tillery threatened Matthew Bowman and Cheryl Tillery’s lives and the lives of Bowman’s two young children, a judge issued an emergency protective order. On August 6, the court issued another order prohibiting Jimmy Tillery from coming within 150 feet of Cheryl Tillery or within 200 feet of Matthew Bowman’s children.

On August 14, Cheryl Tillery finalized her divorce.

On September 17, Mr. Tillery drove onto the couple’s driveway and demanded to speak with his ex-wife. The couple called 911 and asked the police to intervene. Before they arrived, Mr. Bowman brandished his rifle and ordered Mr. Tillery to leave the property. Mr. Tillery refused, multiple times.

Mr. Bowman’s lawyer gave this defense in court:

Bowman maintains that he had reason to believe Tillery possessed a concealed carry permit and liked to carry a handgun with him at all times.

Luby argued at trial that his client’s decision to shoot was lawful because Tillery was trespassing at the time, had made prior threats to kill Bowman, his ex-wife and himself, and was acting on that day “in a violent, tumultuous manner.”

At some point, Mr. Bowman pulled the trigger, firing four shots at Mr. Tillery who was in the driver’s seat of his car. The police arrived a few minutes later. Mr. Tillery was DOA.

Bowman claimed the shooting was done in self-defense. He refused to plea bargain and took the case to a jury trial. On Friday, almost two years after the incident, a jury found Matthew Bowman not guilty.

It’s worth noting that this shooting was almost certainly reported in the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) as a murder. The FBI UCR doesn’t track the results of trials, only arrests and reports of crime. The FBI justified homicide reports only catch about 20% of justified homicides in the nation.

The FBI categorizes actual murders and non-negligent homicides in the UCR report together in the murder category. About two percent of homicides are recorded in the UCR as justified, so the actual number is about 10 percent.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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  1. Goes to show the benefit if not letting one become a victim of either the original crime or the criminal justice process after. If you have the money to fight it, fight it.

    I’d be interested in knowing if Mr. Bowman had any sort of carry insurance that helped him out.

    • If you have the money to fight it, fight it.

      There is the rub. The criminal justice system is biased towards people with money and why I don’t trust it, at all. If you’re not well off and are unjustly accused of wrongdoing, welp, you’re fucked.

      • The “system” is not biased in favor of people with money, but a good defense, including the costs of experts (and any given case can have none, one, or a whole passel) is quite substantial, as are the attorney’s fees; and if you need them but can’t afford them, then you cannot mount an effective defense. (which is what NRA and USCCA sell). Juries don’t care whether you are rich or poor, nor do judges. There are plenty of rich murderers in jail.

        • You kinda made all of my points for me.

          Yes, there are rich people that are convicted of stuff, but there’s also many innocent people that can’t afford that “effective defense” and that’s largely responsible for the 90% plea bargain rate. Scare the shit out of a poor person enough and they’ll do anything to make it go away

      • Not just the criminal justice system.

        The entire court system, civil, criminal, and family, assumes both unlimited time and resources for all parties.

      • That’s why insurance is so important. The NRA and the USCCA both offer low-cost insurance for gun owners. For $160 a year, you can be covered for that most unplesant eventuality.

      • People found “Not Guilty” should have all their legal costs reimbursed by the state. This would encourage good lawyers to take cases they think are winnable and reduce the number of innocent people who take a plea deal out of shear terror (of having nothing but an incompetent shit-stain to defend them).

  2. The shooting sounds pretty questionable to me. I probably wouldn’t convict him either, but would likely rule against him in a civil suit.

    He is probably toast in civil court.

    • Remember though, the media never reports all the facts of the case, especially in ones where there’s a defensive gun use. If the jury unanimously agreed to drop all charges, its very likely the shooter was well within scope of the law.

      • Juries don’t drop charges, prosecutors do. Juries determine guilt or innocence once charges reach the trial stage.
        It doesn’t take a unanimous jury to acquit.

        And I’m still not getting follow-up comments by email.

    • Civil liability depends on the state you live in. I know that in my state, Iowa, if you are cleared of any criminal wrong doing then, under most circumstances, you have no civil liability.

      • So if the government cannot prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, that means the private citizen is not allowed to prove liability by a preponderance of the evidence? That’s odd.

    • The only problem I have with this scenario is the guy still in his car taking 4 rounds of 7.62.

      I understand the reasonable fear and trespassing and all that, but until the guy at least tries to come out of the car how much of a threat is he really? Now if the car was in gear an house or the people, then game on.

      • Man is in front of you and he has threatened to kill your children. Do you let him drive away and pick the time and place of his next move?

        My kids are adults and I’d still take him then and there. Let him bring up my grand kids and they’ll need dna to id his remains.

        • If you’re in that situation, why are you outside? Get back inside, and wait him out.
          If he comes inside, game on. Use the video function of your cell phone to document what’s happening.
          This really isn’t rocket science.

        • I think the technical term for killing somebody because you are afraid they will go away but maybe come back at some other unspecified time in the future and cause trouble is … murder.

          • This. This comment exactly.

            There’s more information on the Web for anyone who wishes to seek it out.

            This looks to the common man like a murder that was justified.

            And you know what? This actually really pisses me off, because it makes every other reasonable defensive shooting look questionable to those who would have us unarmed.

            It would have been better for the nation of gun owners if he had been found guilty.

        • Although it isn’t, deliberate violation of a restraining order SHOULD be cause to shoot someone. Even if all the deceased did was pull into the driveway (knowingly violating a restraining order) the shooting OUGHT to be justified.

          If innocent life is taken because society is too squeamish about killing guilty people, then something is wrong. Not all life is sacred; just innocent life.

          The man likely saved himself or a family member by shooting that prick, even if the threat was not immediate.

      • “but until the guy at least tries to come out of the car how much of a threat is he really?”

        its not like he can shoot through the open car window. Or right through the car door.

        Oh wait…

      • A man can be killed by a car as dead as by bullet . if I suspected I was going to be run over I would not think twice about firing .

  3. Breaching multiple restraining orders with a prior history of threats and refusing to leave after being told to do so at gunpoint.

    Sounds like fairly reasonable fear for you, your children and your partners life.

    People that breach restraining orders are in my experience universally voilent scum.

    • I would agree. This guy showed a history of violent threats and as stated was in breach of restraining orders. Too bad he had to die, but people that show unreasonable behavior can be assumed to act unreasonable. A normal person would not have made threats, a normal person would not have violated restraining orders, and a normal person would have left when told to by the guy with an AK. Normal people acting normally shouldn’t normally get shot. It sucks a guy died and it sucks the police and or the da tried to ruin this guys life, but his kids and gf didn’t die that day.

      • Too bad he had to die?

        It’s worse that he made it as long as he did without becoming an hero after trying to hit an armed woman (or whatever).

        Putrid meatsacks like that one need to be put down immediately after conviction like Ceaucescu, then strung up with their guts as a noose, publicly. Or when they get shot and die choking on their own blood, piled in full view of where miscreants & criminals of all stripes spend their enforced downtime with a sign, “Jail – No Vacancy for wife/husband/etc-beaters”.

  4. This is the most detailed account I’ve seen all weekend, but that isn’t saying much.

    I strongly suspect that just before his death, the deceased said or did something which made his death necessary, when before it would merely have been a net benefit to society.

    If, for example, he was sitting in my driveway describing in detail how he was going to hunt down my children and kill them, I’d immediately end his life without a hint of remorse.

    • Imagine for a moment you are Matthew Bowman, and also imagine that I guessed right about the reason for the DGU.

      And imagine it’s you going to trial, planning to explain your reasoning to the jury and see if they agree with your decision when they have the facts in front of them.

      Now imagine a career criminal like Judge Gloria Navarro thinks she has the power to order you NOT to speak in your own defense and tell the jury why you did what you did.

    • Violate a restraining order = get shot

      Stupid games played = stupid prizes won.

      Nuff said. You don’t like it then try it in Florida.

  5. Probably one the few good uses of a restraining order made it clear to the jury that good guys didn’t want the other dude around and that the dead dude was clearly violating the order.

    Without that RO, shooting an unarmed guy while he’s sitting inside a car is gonna put a big spotlight on you.

    You got to give the jury something to hang their hat on and in this case the RO was probably it.
    So I guess a RO isn’t totally useless.

    • An RO isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
      The penalty for violating an RO is not death.
      Now, if Bowman had been inside the house, and the perp violated the RO and invaded the house, then the penalty is, indeed, death. But it’s the latter action, not the former, that invokes that penalty.
      ROs are useless. They are exactly as effective as a verbal order to go away.

  6. Good paperwork to cover your backside. Maybe the guy was threatening to come back with a gun later, or revving his engine (houses don’t stop cars). A jury of his peers found him innocent. That speaks volumes.

  7. I would have stayed in the house. Let the cops deal with the nutcase, why expose yourself to potential incoming fire when you don’t need to? If he kicks in the door, well that becomes an entirely different thing.

    • Perhaps. It is hard to say without being put in the exact situation, but I would probably have stayed inside with my rifle pointed out the window and if he looked to grab a weapon(maybe he did and maybe that’s why he was popped?) or ram the house I’d take care of it. It’s hard to say.

  8. “Should have stayed in the house”

    Maybe. Maybe for the first few times. It sounds like this lowlife was habitually violating the ROs to harass the couple & the children & continually escalating things (with the authorities apparently not much help), which makes it unreasonable to expect them to ignore or hide from the guy.

    At some point you have to react when a threat becomes dangerous enough; that’s the whole point of self-defense by the way, you aren’t supposed to wait until you are on the floor & dying before a response is justified. In this case it simply built to a head much more slowly than usual, but clearly something finally changed that caused the shooter to stop tolerating a long string of increasingly threatening behavior.

    We’d need more detail to know what is was, but it could have been something as simple as a sudden movement by a person the shooter assumed was armed (i.e. the ‘furtive movement’ so frequently cited, usually legitimate, in justified police shootings of criminals)

  9. You threaten a man’s kids. Violate all sorts of legal restraints and social norms.

    And then you bring a car to an ak47 fight. You ain’t smart enough to live.

  10. Aaah, yet another trailer park love triangle, firearms and death story. They should write a country song about this. 😀
    ‘It was to him another failure, when she showed up at my trailer
    And demanded: give back his wife, or he’s gonna take a life
    Now he’s goin’ straight to heaven, ’cause I had my AK forty seven’

      • I can write stuff like this on spot with no problem. Though, it got me thrown out of the navy and suspended on FB for a week during the 2016 election. Some people cannot appreciate poetry. 😛

  11. True “justice” would be Bowman recovering ALL costs associated with his defense and lost wages plus as an added “bonus” the disbarment of the prosecutor (persecutor) so that he can NEVER jeopardize a law-abiding gun owner’s freedom again..

  12. A guy in a car in my front yard , I dunno. I mean the guy had a restraining order and had threatened him before, but …I dunno.

    That said I doubt we got all the details reported.

  13. The pivotal issue is the restraining orders and the phone call to police. The couple took the steps necessary to frame this correctly. Once he pulled into the driveway, he forfeited his life. That may seem harsh, but it is accurate.

    I would like to see more explanation in the coverage as to why the prosecutor chose to file charges and take this to trial.

  14. I’m not going to lie. I’ve done a fair bit of reading on this outside of this article, and according to the law, this shooting seems very, very questionable.

    Now, if a jury decided that he’s innocent, then far be it from me to question their judgment. That’s the judicial system. We have it, and we largely trust it.

    But to be honest, it’s really frightening and quite revolting how much some of you seem to relish in the death of a human being, regardless of his crime (which, as far as I can tell, only equated to breaking a protective order).

    I’ll say this: if the time comes when I feel it necessary to shoot someone to defend my life or the lives of the innocent, I’ll do so. Without hesitation.

    But at no point will I be as gleeful and savage as some of you are about the deaths of human beings. It’s kind of sad, actually.

    And now you’ll justify it with whatever you feel makes it ok. That’s ok. I know that. And some of you will even find it necessary to personally attack me. That’s ok too.

    • A lot of that is bravado by being invisible.
      The “he threatened me and mine” is not a valid defense. Threats are cheap, and any decent prosecutor can go back through a defendant’s life and find threats made by him/her, especially in today’s social media.
      Either there’s a lot more than we’re being told, or he had a truly excellent lawyer.

      • I completely agree with you. That’s what I mean.

        This doesn’t read like a justified shooting. It reads like a hothead with an itchy trigger finger got tired of the law not doing anything and took it into his own hands.

        We can all agree (or we should be able to….) that the correct way is not to shoot first and find out later.

        Unless he saw a gun, or a similar projectile weapon, there was no need to put four rifle rounds into a man sitting in his car.

        Like I said, it’s done. The jury found him to be innocent of any crime, and just as we nod our heads and accept the fate of a criminal when they’re locked up, we have to do the same in this instance, where, perhaps, justice was eluded.

        I’ll say this though, I wouldn’t be disheartened to see the shooter sued for a couple million.

        And as for ‘bravado’ and ‘invisible’, I’m not sure what you mean.

        • so you claim to have read a bunch on the subject yet havent shared any deets, do tell what makes you feel this way? my opinion is that criminals are gonna victimize someone, as they are criminals, so this ended better than him picking a defenseless victim, now only the “criminal” is dead, no innocent victims… that is if we are playing what ifs

  15. The system seems unable to save your life, only sweep up the remains. It’s up to YOU to save your own life, and if you feel elated afterwards for cheating death, that’s a natural reaction to survival.
    Sawing off his head and mounting it on a pike in your front yard as a warning to others WILL be frowned on…… Sadly.

  16. The guy who got shot was sitting in his car. WTF. Doesn’t sound like an imminent threat to me. Could be, but sure doesn’t sound like it. Believe me, I’m all for our right to shoot someone. Just sounds a little questionable the way written.

  17. The real take away from this is 1.) Dont trust a woman, 2.) Just walk away from them when they stray.

    If you become so emotionally attached you can find yourself in a world of hurt, legally, emotionally, physically.

  18. That is what I don’t ever understand about these stories
    If she doesn’t want to be with you any more, why would you want her back?
    There are literally millions of other women in the world
    There some who would love to be with you
    Find another one
    Stealing half your stuff in a nasty divorce is a small price to pay
    It’s way better than being dead

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