Harrison County man sentenced for 2001 sexual assault and robbery of elderly woman

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — A Harrison County man convicted in the 2001 sexual assault and burglary of an elderly woman will be subject to some sort of punishment for what most likely will be the rest of his life.

Adam Derek Bowers
Adam Derek Bowers

Adam Derek Bowers, 29, was sentenced Monday morning to 70 years in prison on two counts of first degree sexual assault, one count of first degree burglary and one count of fist degree robbery.

The night of November 30, 2001, Bowers –who was 16 at the time– broke into the home of an 83-year-old woman in the Stealy area of Clarksburg, raped her multiple times and robbed her of $9 at knifepoint.

Former Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer had the case bumped up to adult status and the state used DNA evidence from the crime scene tested multiple times to prove Bowers committed the acts.

He was found guilty by a jury back in May.

Before the sentence was issued, Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Armstrong urged the court to hand down a harsh penalty due to the serious nature of the crime, Bower’s criminal history after the acts in 2001 –which included two felonies, one violent in nature– and the age of the victim.

“It’s difficult to describe the acts as anything other than heinous,” Armstrong said.

The defense, represented by Christopher M. Wilson, agreed that the crimes were indeed serious.

However, he asked the judge keep in mind the age of the defendant at the time, saying it was a bit deceiving to look now upon a 29-year-old man when it was a 16-year-old who committed the crimes.

Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Bedell determined that the sentence should be substantial, agreeing with the state’s position that the crimes were heinous.

“This is a life changing event,” he said. “Not only for the victim, but for the victim’s family.”

Bowers would be eligible for parole after 40 years. If granted, he would have to register as a sex offender for life and would be subject to supervised release for 50 years.

Judge Bedell made a point to make reference to Bower’s codefendant when stating that this was one of the more serious cases he has dealt with during his time on the bench.

Joseph Anthony “Joe” Buffey was also convicted of the crime when he entered into a plea deal and received a 70-year prison sentence, which he is currently serving.

He admitted to being at the house at the time, but –like Bowers– never admitted to committing the crimes.

However, his case is subject to an October hearing before the state Supreme court of Appeals after a motion was filed on his behalf with the help of The Innocence Project based out of New York.

The argument is that Buffey received inadequate legal counsel that did not pursue the DNA evidence that ultimately convicted Bowers and urged him to enter into the agreement.

An earlier appeal filed by Buffey in Harrison County Circuit Court was rejected by Judge Bedel, who characterized it as “buyers remorse” when he did not get the sentence he thought he would with the deal.

The state maintains that there were multiple assailants in the home the night of the crime –as the victim initially told her son who came to the scene, but then began using words such as “he” instead of “them”– and that Buffey could have used a condom.

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