BELLEFONTE - Navorro Bowman stood before the judge, arms extended outward, and pleaded, "I'm not a bad guy."
Maybe not, but he did a bad thing, leading Centre County Judge Bradley Lunsford to chastise the Penn State football star with a stern lecture and warning Wednesday morning. The judge's message: Change your ways or else you will spend six months in jail.
Lunsford, who expressed frustration during much of Bowman's probation revocation hearing, told attorneys, "I think I need to get his attention because I don't think he's taking this process very seriously."
Mirror file photo by Teri Enciso Albarano
Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman was a first-team all-Big Ten selection in 2008 with 106 tackles.
Bowman admitted earlier this month to a probation officer that he had smoked marijuana twice since December. That violated his probation from a misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction stemming from a campus fight in October of 2007.
The prosecution recommended an additional six months of probation as punishment for Bowman, but Lunsford felt that wasn't harsh enough.
The judge doubled the recommendation and slapped Bowman with 12 months of probation. He also laid down a strict set of guidelines that Bowman must follow.
Bowman will receive a six-month jail term if he fails to adhere to any of the following:
n He must refrain from alcohol use for one year.
n He cannot enter a bar or alcohol establishment.
n He must take and pass monthly drug and alcohol screenings.
n He must participate in a counseling program.
n He must complete 100 hours of community service, held over from his previous sentence.
n He cannot miss any meetings with his probation officer.
Bowman also has to pay court costs and fees as part of his legal punishment.
His football punishment is now a big question.
Coach Joe Paterno undoubtedly will be asked about Bowman's playing status during Saturday's Blue-White Game press conference. Paterno may decide to suspend the redshirt junior for part of the upcoming season, and Penn State's Office of Judicial Affairs also could levy a punishment that affects his football future.
Bowman was a first-team all-Big Ten selection in 2008 after leading the Nittany Lions with 106 tackles.
Lunsford seemed perturbed that Bowman had not completed any of the 100 hours of community service in the 11 months since his conviction.
Bowman said he thought he was doing community service through various activities, including some with the football team, but none of them had been cleared through the court. He cited work with Special Olympics and visiting kids in schools as examples.
Lunsford wrestled with a fair punishment and told Bowman, "I need you to step up, and I'm not sure how to help you do that."
The defense painted a picture of Bowman as a young man going through a lot of tough times in his life. His father, Hillard, died of a blood clot in his left leg last June, and his high school football coach and mentor, Nick Lynch, died in a car crash just two days before the Lions played in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Bowman, a 20-year-old from District Heights, Md., stood and told the judge he also has lost 10 close friends to drugs and violence since he has been in college.
Lunsford offered sympathetic words but later told Bowman, "Do you think you're the only person in the world to suffer loss?"
The judge also told the lawyers he cannot look past criminal activity simply because Bowman has had a tough life.
"Am I the only person in the courtroom who thinks that smoking marijuana is wrong?" Lunsford said at one point.
The judge also looked directly at Bowman and told him, "You were using drugs. That's not being a leader in the community like I asked you to."
Bowman's attorney, Stacy Parks Miller, asked the court to come up with a way to help her client find a way to succeed.
The prosecution agreed, and Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane said he did not believe incarceration would be a means to that end. Sloane said going to jail would strip Bowman of having a chance to get the help he needs.
The hearing lasted about 30 minutes and ended with Lunsford handing down the probation sentence. Bowman and his attorney left the courthouse without commenting, but only after Bowman was issued a warrant for an outstanding speeding ticket.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.