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Prosecutor says evidence shows girlfriend killed J's Place owner over his affair with another woman


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

Michaele Bowers spent more than two decades dating chef Raymond Ingram.

She knew he'd been unfaithful, but still held out hope that one day they would marry. 

On Feb. 18, 2017, however, Bowers, 51, discovered a receipt from a Vons grocery store showing Ingram had bought her and another woman nearly identical gifts for Valentine's Day. The other woman was someone whom Ingram, the owner of J's Place in northwest Bakersfield, had fathered a child with a few years earlier.

Bowers had believed that relationship was over. 

The discovery of the receipt fueled Bowers' anger and jealousy, culminating with her shooting the 51-year-old Ingram dead at her home the morning of Feb. 22, 2017, prosecutor John Allen said during his closing argument Tuesday.

Allen is asking the jury find Bowers guilty on a charge of first-degree murder in Ingram's slaying. He said the evidence shows she acted with premeditation and intent to kill.

She faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

"This is not an accident or self-defense case," Allen said during his two-hour closing. "The evidence is wholly inconsistent with that."

Bowers' defense attorney, David A. Torres, said the shooting was an accident. The attorney said Ingram was abusive and had previously punched, kicked and belittled Bowers on multiple occasions. 

On the day of the shooting, Ingram threatened to kill her after the two traded insults at her home in southwest Bakersfield, Torres said. She ran from him, grabbed a gun in her bedroom and stepped into the bathroom as Ingram rushed down the hallway after her.

He entered the room still yelling and cursing, the attorney said. His eyes met Bowers'. Startled, she accidentally fired a shot, Torres said.

Ingram was struck in the neck, the round severing his spinal cord and killing him almost instantly.

During Torres' closing argument, which continues Wednesday morning, he played a video that showed a graphic of the the layout of the home from an overhead view. Two dots represented Bowers and Ingram, and Torres, in a recorded voiceover, used the swears and threats that Bowers testified Ingram yelled at her as he chased her through the home.

A couple people in the audience became emotional and briefly left the courtroom after the video played. 

Allen argued there was no evidence to support the defense's claim that Ingram had previously abused Bowers. Torres, however, said the couple had a tumultuous relationship, and a psychologist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

She believed as Ingram followed her to her bedroom that another beating was coming, Torres said. 

"She felt threatened and she feared to be on the bad side of a bad beating," he said.

He's asking the jury find her not guilty, in which case she would be released from custody. Bowers has been in jail since her arrest more than two years ago. 

Jason Kotowski can be reached at 661-395-7491. Follow him on Twitter: @tbcbreakingnews.

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