Penn State All-Big Ten linebacker Navorro Bowman entered the Centre County Courthouse Annex Wednesday morning unsure if he would leave the building on his own accord or in handcuffs.
Fortunately for him, he exited the probation revocation hearing a free man, albeit one whom had just received a serious tongue lashing and had seen his probationary period extended by one year.
I will not be back here, Bowman said shortly before Judge Bradley Lunsford issued his decision on the case.
This is a promise, Lunsford said in handing down his decision. If you violate any condition of this (sentence), you will be incarcerated for a period of six months.
Bowman pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct in May of 2008, stemming from an on-campus fight that happened the previous year. Terms of the plea agreement included Bowman being put on probation for one year and doing 100 hours of community service.
According to court testimony, Bowman was assigned a new probation officer recently. When he met with her April 9, he admitted to using marijuana twice since January -- once after returning from the Rose Bowl and once about a week and a half before the April 9 meeting. Bowman implied that both instances happened when he was at home in District Heights, Md.
The marijuana use was a violation of the terms of his probation, and the officer reported it to the district attorney's office. The wheels were in motion for the revocation hearing. The officer also reported that as of April 9, Bowman had not done any of the 100 hours of community service.
Nevertheless, the probation officer and the DA's office both suggested a fitting punishment for the violations would be six months of probation added on to the current sentence. Lunsford was not sold, and declined to sign off on a plea agreement.
We need to talk about this, Lunsford said.
The probation officer and defense attorney Stacy Parks Miller both said Bowman has been under considerable stress the past year or so due to the death of his father and high school football coach, as well as other family issues.
Miller added that while Bowman had not done any community service through the probation office, he had done a significant amount of similar work with the PSU football team. She said he was confused as to what counted toward his official tally of community service.
Sloane chimed in that he had not known about Bowman's personal issues, and that he was sympathetic to them.
Lunsford, though, took a more firm line. He said everyone has stress in his or her life, and the probation officer and the DA's office were close to condoning criminal conduct. He added that he did not want to set a precedent that anyone who was under stress had a built-in excuse for committing crimes.
Lunsford then asked Bowman to explain himself, and the linebacker stated the personal problems he has had, including losing a high school teammate who was shot in the head. He said he is eight credits away from graduating and doing the best he can to escape a difficult background.
Bowman said he hates going back to his hometown because the atmosphere is so bad there. He hates leaving the secure environment of State College.
Lunsford said he stayed awake all night before the hearing because he was concerned of what might happen to Bowman if he were not held accountable for his actions. He said a lot of people in Bowman's position have ended up in jail or dead, and I don't want you to be that guy.
If you don't correct this stuff now, it's not going to get better.
Lunsford added, I want you to succeed, I want you to be a leader in the community.
At this point, I'm not sure you're headed in that direction.
Lunsford then made his ruling, which included the following:
Bowman must pay costs associated with the hearing.
Bowman must undergo immediate testing to see if he is a drug or alcohol abuser. He must refrain from using alcohol for one year. He must avoid going in bars for one year. He must also undergo monthly drug tests.
Bowman must serve 12 more months of probation.
If any of the terms of probation are broken, Bowman will be jailed for six months.
Bowman and Parks Miller decline comment upon leaving the courthouse.