A man accused of taking a police officer’s life will likely spend the rest of his behind bars.
In a crowded and somber courtroom, Terry Bowling was sentenced Wednesday to at least 100 years in prison for the death of Livonia Police Officer Larry Nehasil. Nehasil, a Milford resident, was fatally shot Jan. 17 by Bowling’s brother outside a home in Walled Lake.
Nehasil’s supporters wiped away tears as his loved ones remembered a hardworking man who was dedicated to his family and loved being a police officer.
Bowling, 49, said he was sorry for the loss of life. After the hearing, Livonia Interim Police Chief Curtis Caid, who is married to Nehasil’s twin sister, called the apology hollow. He said he was elated with Bowling’s lengthy sentence.
We’re all safer at this point with him in prison,” Caid said.
A team of Livonia police officers had been conducting surveillance of Bowling and his brother, David, because they were suspects in a string of home invasions. The officers followed the Bowlings from St. Clair Shores — where the brothers broke into a residence — to the home in Walled Lake. There, Nehasil died in a shootout with David Bowling. David Bowling also died from his injuries.
Bowling pleaded no contest in September to charges of second-degree murder, home invasion and resisting and obstructing a police officer.
More than three dozen police officers, reserve officers and other representatives of the Livonia Police Department stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the aisles of Oakland Circuit Judge Michael Warren’s courtroom to watch the sentencing.
Nehasil’s widow, Linda, said she and her husband shared a once-in-a-lifetime love. They met when they were 16 and would have celebrated 33 years together today.
“My life is ruined … I miss Larry with every ounce of my being, and I so badly want to be with him,” she said.
Caid was at home listening to the police radio Jan. 17 when he heard words that gave him chills: “Shots fired” and “officer down.”
Caid said Nehasil and Bowling led contrasting lives. Nehasil, he said, was a highly decorated officer who humbly served others with honor. After his death, a man who Nehasil once locked up called the police station to offer condolences, saying Nehasil had treated him kindly and with respect.
Caid said Bowling has a long criminal history, having being convicted of larceny, burglary and other offenses. He asked Warren to issue the maximum sentence possible.
Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Pernick also requested a stiff penalty. He called Bowling an evil and wicked predator.
“He is a cancer, attacking us at will, taking from us what he wants and violently opposing valiant warriors like Larry Nehasil,” Pernick said.
Bowling’s defense attorney, Randall Lewis, asked for a sentence that would start at the low end of Bowling’s sentencing guidelines. The guidelines were about 30 to 100 years behind bars.
Lewis said it was Bowling’s brother, and not Bowling, who fired the fatal shot. He said Bowling never intended to kill or harm anyone.
“I assert to the court that (a sentence starting at 30 years) is penalty enough for his involvement in this case,” Lewis said.
When it was his turn to speak, Bowling apologized to his family, his brother’s family and Nehasil’s family. He called the incident a terrible tragedy.
“The loss of life that you’re suffering through, I’m terribly sorry for that,” he said.
He also told Warren, the judge, that he is ashamed he didn’t realize that “something like this could have happened.”
Warren said: “An officer dedicated to serving and protecting the public was cut down while protecting the liberties, freedom and safety that we as Americans are entitled to have.”
Warren gave Bowling 100 to 150 years in prison on the second-degree murder charge, a sentence he said was in the best interest of justice.