Jordan Bowers is headed to prison, where she’ll stay up to 20 months for two felony charges of child endangerment.
Grays Harbor County’s Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jason Walker made some comments to the court on Friday morning, April 22, before Bowers received her prison sentence. The comments detail the potential lasting impacts to the 2-year-old and 6-year-old victims. He learned of the impacts from talking to the doctor, who had recently seen the two children.
“The current scientific thinking is, ‘Once there is an exposure at this age, their addiction centers are activated and they’re drug addicts now,’” Walker said. “That’s the thinking. They’re little kids. They don’t know what drugs are. They’ve never willingly ingested them, but they’re already addicts.”
Walker said it’s why cases, such as Bowers and Andrew Carlson, who were co-defendants, are treated so harshly by the law. Carlson pleaded guilty to the same charges March 14, before his 12-month sentence was rendered on March 28.
During the hearing, Bowers sat, masked, with her hair up, and held her hands below the table.
While Bowers’ guilty plea lessened the possible sentence she might have received — each “B” level felony carries a maximum of 10 years in prison — it would have been difficult to prove her guilt in a trial. Therefore, Walker seemed convinced that taking the plea deal was the right course of action.
The good news is the 6-year old is “doing physically well,” but it made potentially proving the abandonment of a dependent person charge — the first count against Bowers — difficult for the state.
“We were left in the position of trying to prove something that might happen in the future, which is always difficult,” he said. “That’s part of the reason that I agreed to dismiss count 1.”
Walker then explained had the state gone to trial on the child endangerment charges, Bowers might have ended up facing the same sentencing range.
The other difficulty the state would have faced, as Walker opined, was how difficult the charges would have been to prove.
“I think everybody in the criminal justice world certainly knows that people who consume drugs frequently, hang out with other people who consume drugs,” he said. “In a trial for endangerment of a controlled substance, I think your honor knows my office has taken those matters to trial before, and there have been acquittals.”
Walker said in those cases, the people charged could always say “it was someone else smoking drugs around the kids.”
Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge Katherine Svoboda noted how weak and defenseless the young children are before she levied Bowers her punishment.
“These children are exceptionally vulnerable,” she said. “You have a 6-year-old who has major medical issues, and is not capable of protecting themself, and a child who is only 2 years old.”
Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office deputies found in December 2021, that the 6-year-old, who was deprived of medication for 15 months, was legally blind in both eyes, and needed the medication to live.
Then, the young victims tested positive for methamphetamine through a hair follicle test in December 2021. The 2-year-old child’s test results were more “consistent with ingestion.”
Svoboda clarified to Walker and Michael Nagle, who is Bowers’ attorney, that the court only had the authority to punish inside the agreed to range of 15 to 20 months of incarceration.
Then she asked if Nagle had anything to add to his sentencing statement.
“I’ll just tell you that this was carefully negotiated,” Nagle said. “Ms. Bowers always insisted she was not responsible for this.”
Svoboda clarified to the court, and presumably to anyone else listening to the proceedings, that the hearing was to address the two counts of endangerment with a controlled substance, and nothing else.
“It would be ridiculous to ignore that we have other things at play here,” she said. “However, this court has no role in investigating other matters in making any kind of a prejudgment. I have no idea what happened in the other case, (and) whether that will come before this court, or whether Ms. Bowers is responsible. That is for another day and another time.”
As of yet, no charges against Bowers and Carlson have anything to do with 5-year-old Oakley Carlson, the little girl who was reported missing on Dec. 6, 2021, and who has not been seen since Feb. 10, 2021. Her missing status started the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office investigation into Bowers and Carlson. Since Oakley was reported missing, there have been five gatherings in support of finding Oakley outside Grays Harbor County Jail.
Then, Svoboda explained why she would not give a lesser punishment to Bowers, who had previously completed Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative through the court.
“She is not sort of the usual addict that would come before the court,” Svoboda said. “She had the benefit of completing a residential DOSA and the treatment that came in her prior dependency. She certainly had the tools, which she simply chose not to employ, to not use or not protect. She’s well aware of the danger that methamphetamine poses.”
While Bowers faces up to 20 months in prison, Nagle believes she’ll spend half of that time behind bars.
“You’ll be out in about 10 (months,)” he whispered to her while he attempted to cover the courtroom microphone, after her sentencing on Friday inside the superior courtroom at Grays Harbor County Courthouse.