Homicide charges against a former inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Pine Grove have been held over for trial.
At a preliminary hearing Thursday in the Indiana County Court House, Clymer Magisterial District Judge Christopher S. Welch sent to the county’s Common Pleas Court the case against Dwight Darnell Bowen, 43, of Philadelphia, in the New Year’s Day slaying of cellmate Luis Antonio Santiago, 32, of La Belle, Fayette County.
The hearing came two weeks after Bowen was arrested at SCI-Houtzdale in Clearfield County, where he was transferred after the Jan. 1 incident.
According to a state police affidavit, Bowen said Santiago suffered an epileptic seizure and that he applied CPR until medical personnel could arrive.
However, another inmate told troopers that Santiago and Bowen were fighting, while other inmates told state police “that there were potential issues between the victim (Santiago) and accused (Bowen) over who slept in the bottom bunk.”
After an autopsy conducted at Forensic DX in Windber on Jan. 2 by Dr. Kevin Whaley, Indiana County Coroner Jerry L. Overman Jr. ruled the manner of death as homicide with the cause being asphyxia due to venous obstruction.
Subsequently, the state police Greensburg Regional Laboratory was contacted to do DNA testing of three cuttings from a T-shirt found on the lower bunk as well as blood from the north wall and a cabinet in the cell.
According to the state police affidavit, in all of those cases the DNA profile matched Santiago’s. There also was blood lifted from another cabinet, which “was consistent with a mixture of at least two individuals, with the major component of the mixture matching the profile” of Bowen.
Bowen had a long list of criminal charges, according to the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia County docket.
They included a conviction for a 1996 firearms violation and a 2004 guilty plea to murder charges stemming from a June 2001 firebombing of a home in North Philadelphia that claimed the lives of two toddlers.
Two adults also were injured in that firebombing.
Bowen was represented in Indiana County by Public Defender William L. Stephens Jr.
Santiago had been in SCI-Pine Grove since July 10, 2018, serving a 2ﾽ-to-10-year sentence out of Berks County for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury.