FARMINGTON — A Franklin County justice Friday sentenced a Carthage man to 10 years in prison, with all but three years suspended, for cutting his girlfriend’s neck last year.

Bennie T. Bowie II, 48, pleaded Nov. 18 to felony aggravated assault, not agreeing with the state’s evidence but acknowledging that if it were presented to a jury, he could be found guilty.

Justice William Stokes thought the state’s request for five years in prison was too much, in light of what Bowie has accomplished while serving nearly 13 months, but that the two years requested by Bowie’s attorney, Thomas Carey, was not enough.

Bowie did cause injury with a folding buck knife in what could have been a catastrophic or even deadly event, Stokes said.

When his girlfriend wanted to return home to her father on the night of Nov. 1, 2015, the two fought, Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said.

While they were in Bowie’s truck, he pulled a knife, poked her in the neck, grabbed her by her hair and struck her head on the dashboard, Robbins said. When Bowie got out of the truck, she locked the doors and he reached through the passenger door window and cut her on the neck.

The injury, which could have killed her, required surgery and left a scar, Robbins said.  

The incident does not qualify as serious bodily injury, Carey argued, because it did not cut an artery, vein or her esophagus. Emergency personnel found her walking around and talking and she did not want treatment, he said.

Bowie, though intoxicated, tried to get her help by taking her to his parents’ house which was nearest to the scene, Carey said.

Bowie panicked, left the scene and went to his aunt’s house in Wells, later turning himself in to police, Carey said.

He said Bowie and the woman were under some level of intoxication. The woman has a drug addiction and Bowie was doing everything he could to help her get off drugs, Carey said.

The defense attorney said no one really knows what occurred that night. Bowie was attacked with a hammer and would have had a self-defense argument if the case had gone to trial. Their versions of events are arguable, he said.

While she is living a normal life, his life has changed, Carey said.

Elizabeth Cooke, a former writing instructor at the University of Maine at Farmington who volunteers at the local jail and works with inmates on writing, also spoke of the efforts Bowie has made.

“I deeply believe in Bennie Bowie,” she said. “That’s why I’m here today.” 

Cooke said she has spent over 200 hours helping him with his writing and work to earn his General Educational Development certificate, the equivalent of a high school diploma.

“This is the only inmate I have ever stepped up for,” she said.

She said Bowie has been taunted all his life because he was born with a cleft palate that causes people to underestimate his abilities, she said. She described a number of Bowie’s attributes, including his talent for writing, his loyalty to his family and friends and his desire to help others.

Cooke and an aunt, Dorothy Campbell, said they had concerns about his potential heart issue and other health situations.

Campbell asked the justice to sentence Bowie to time served.

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