Crime

Man charged with murder after victim of attack outside Drop-In center dies

William D. Davis, 52, died Tuesday, after he was assaulted Feb. 25 on the sidewalk outside The Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-In Center on West Holly Street in Bellingham. The man who reportedly attacked him has been charged with second-degree murder.
William D. Davis, 52, died Tuesday, after he was assaulted Feb. 25 on the sidewalk outside The Lighthouse Mission’s Drop-In Center on West Holly Street in Bellingham. The man who reportedly attacked him has been charged with second-degree murder. The Bellingham Herald file

The man who reportedly punched another Feb. 25 outside the Lighthouse Mission Ministry’s Drop-In Center, resulting in the second man’s death, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Evan Jones filed the amended charging documents against Clint Ray Bowen, 47, Friday in Whatcom County Superior Court. Bowen was originally charged with second-degree assault last week.

“Any time a life is taken, we think the case is a very important one,” Jones told The Bellingham Herald. “The prosecuting attorney’s office selected a charge that most fits the facts of this case.”

As previously reported in The Herald, William D. Davis, 52, died Tuesday a week after he was hospitalized with injuries he suffered after reportedly being punched in the face by Jones and falling onto the sidewalk outside the emergency overnight shelter.

According to the amended court documents, Davis never regained consciousness.

“We’re very saddened by what happened and our staff was there visiting him daily in the hospital all the way to the end,” Lighthouse Mission Ministries Executive Director Hans Erchinger-Davis told The Bellingham Herald on Tuesday. “It’s a painful thing for us because we cared about him.”

According to the amended documents, Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel performed an autopsy Thursday and found fractures to the skull that were consistent with the assault.

The autopsy also found Davis had an enlarged heart, according to the court documents, which could have contributed to his heart stopping during the assault.

According to information provided by Lt. Claudia Murphy, police responded at approximately 9:10 p.m. Feb. 25 to the Drop-In Center for homeless people at 1013 West Holly St. to investigate the report of an assault that had just occurred and arrived to find Davis lying on the ground, unconscious and having a bystander perform CPR on him.

Officers took over lifesaving efforts on Davis until Bellingham Fire and Aid units arrived and took over CPR, but they could not locate a pulse for Davis. After approximately 10 to 15 minutes of CPR, Davis’ pulse returned and he was transported to the St. Joseph hospital emergency department.

According to court documents, as officers were arriving on scene, they saw Bowen running toward the Lighthouse Mission and flag down an officer and tell them that Davis had swung at him, so he knocked him out. But a nearby witness pointed at Bowen and said, “that’s him,” documents state, and other witnesses said Bowen sucker punched Davis with an uppercut to the face after Bowen threatened to head-butt others over cigarettes.

Bowen’s punch reportedly caused Davis to fall to the ground and hit his head, and he was not responsive after he hit the ground.

Surveillance video from the Drop-In Center also showed Bowen throw a punch that caused Davis to fall to the ground, charging documents state.

Erchinger-Davis said Davis’ death is the first he is aware of at the Drop-In Center due to an assault since Lighthouse Ministries began operating the shelter in October 2016.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.

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