bowers

Michaele Bowers was on tria for first-degree murder in the shooting of J's Place owner Raymond Ingram.

There was a huge outpouring of emotion when news spread of the shooting death of Raymond Ingram, owner of popular Southern-style restaurant J's Place, at a southwest Bakersfield home two years ago.

Many wrote about their positive interactions with the oft-smiling Ingram, 51, who dubbed himself the Cobbler King and gave cooking demonstrations.

But there was a dark side to Ingram, one he kept from the public eye, defense attorney David A. Torres said Tuesday.

Torres, who is representing Ingram's former girlfriend, Michaele Bowers, on a charge of first-degree murder in his death, told the jury the chef frequently abused her during their 25-year relationship. Ingram punched, kicked and belittled Bowers, he said. He engaged in other romantic relationships, and fathered a child with another woman, according to the attorney. 

On Feb. 22, 2017, there was yet another, and final, incident of abuse, Torres said. This time, Ingram became enraged as he and Bowers traded insults and threatened to kill her, Torres told the jury. 

Bowers ran down the hallway of her home in the 5600 block of McKee Road, grabbed a gun and locked herself in the bathroom, according to the attorney. 

Ingram rushed after her, then kicked open the bathroom door. Startled, Bowers accidentally fired a single shot, Torres said.

The round struck Ingram in his upper body. He fell, and Bowers immediately called 911 and reported the shooting, Torres said. 

The attorney called Ingram's death an accident, but prosecutors in court filings say the killing was premeditated. Court documents filed by police indicate Ingram's relationship with another woman may have spurred her actions. 

A few days before the killing, according to the documents, Bowers discovered Ingram had bought her and the other woman the same presents for Valentine's Day.

On the day of his death, Ingram, who maintained a separate residence, drove to Bowers' house to drop off a bag of Bowers' clothing and pick up other items, documents said. He sent her a text saying, "Put all the stuff in the bag my receipts I'm dropping all your stuff this morning no conversation needed."

In talking with family members of Bowers, investigators learned Ingram had been carrying on a long-term relationship with another woman. The woman told investigators she had been seeing Ingram since 2009 and had repeatedly asked Ingram to end his relationship with Bowers, according to the documents. 

Prosecutor John Allen gave his opening statement last week. 

Torres said Bowers, 51, will testify, as will a psychologist who determined Bowers suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of abuse. Bowers' children will testify, including an adult son she had with Ingram. 

The attorney said he will also call a firearms expert to testify on the trajectory of the round fired by Bowers and how it's consistent with an accidental discharge. 

A construction of PVC pipes showing outlines of doorways and desks was constructed in the middle of the courtroom Tuesday to represent the layout of Bower's bedroom and bathroom. Torres said the firearms expert will use the outlines to show precisely where Bowers and Ingram stood as the incident unfolded. 

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