BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Following two trials and years of maintaining she acted in self-defense, Michaele Bowers on Thursday was sentenced to six years in prison for the fatal shooting of her longtime boyfriend.
Before sentencing, several family members asked the court for Bowers’ immediate release, saying she had long been a victim of abuse at the hands of Ray Ingram, whom she dated off and on for years. Judge Judith K. Dulcich followed the stipulated plea deal because if she rejected it, she said, it would only result in a third trial for Bowers and prolong a resolution for both families.
Bowers, 53, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter last month after juries deadlocked in trials where prosecutors sought to convict her of murder in the Feb. 22, 2017, shooting. One trial ended in March of last year, the other in February.
With more than four years of in-custody credits, Bowers could possibly be released as soon as next year.
Orlynn Bailey, one of Bowers’ adult sons, told the court his mother had long supported Ingram in his dream to become a chef and own a restaurant cooking the food he loved. Ingram was chef and owner of J’s Place on Rosedale Highway, and he gave cooking demonstrations and sold an assortment of cobblers through his Cobbler King business.
But Ingram’s disposition wasn’t as sunny as his public persona indicated, Bailey said. Ingram inflicted both verbal and physical abuse on his mother, he said, abuse that continued until Ingram threatened to kill her.
“The incident ended her abuser’s life, sadly,” Bailey said, telling the court both families are suffering from what happened.
Bailey criticized the prosecution’s decision to keep trying to convict his mother when he believed the evidence was clear Bowers’ acted out of fear for her life. He said there are “major disparities” in how Black women are treated by the legal system compared to white women, and said the case against his mother was “unjust.”
Raymone Ingram, the son of Bowers and Ray Ingram, called the case a tragedy, and agreed the shooting was self-defense.
“I felt like she should have walked,” Raymone Ingram said before sentencing.
Also present for sentencing was Wendy Howard, who is charged with murder in the shooting death of an ex-boyfriend whom she confronted over his alleged molestation of her teenage daughter. Howard, like others present for the hearing, wore a purple pin recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. She’s out on bail and has a trial scheduled next year.
At trial, Bowers’ defense counsel argued she shot Ingram, 51, after he threatened to kill her and chased her into a bedroom of her Bakersfield home. Ingram had long abused Bowers, said David A. Torres, who represented her at both trials. She fired a single shot, which struck Ingram in the neck and severed his spinal cord, killing him instantly.
Torres was no longer Bowers’ attorney at sentencing, where she was represented by Deputy Public Defender Lexi Blythe.
Prosecutor John Allen had argued Bowers killed Ingram in a fit of anger and jealousy over his repeated infidelity.
Days before the shooting, Bowers discovered a receipt that showed Ingram had bought two sets of Valentine’s gifts, Allen said at trial. One of the gifts went to Bowers, the other to a woman with whom he had fathered a child. Bowers had believed Ingram was no longer involved with that woman, Allen said.
When Ingram ended the relationship and arrived at her house to gather his belongings, Bowers shot him, the prosecutor said.