MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A former Middle Tennessee State University student will spend the next 40 years behind bars after pleading guilty to killing a 22-year-old woman inside her Murfreesboro apartment in 2015.
Brandon Bowling was arrested for Heather Maples’ death days after she was found lying face down on a mattress inside her apartment at the Cove of Center Point by a friend on the morning of Aug. 7.
Investigators said a bloody fingerprint that matched Bowling’s was found at the scene. A cell phone video reportedly showing him raping a semi-conscious Maples was also found during the course of the investigation.MORE: Police: Bloody fingerprint in dead 22-year-old’s apartment led to suspect
Ahead of his scheduled June 19 trial, Bowling agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated rape. All other charges against him surrounding the case were dismissed.
He will serve 40 years at 100 percent for second degree murder and 15 years for aggravated rape. The time will run concurrently, meaning at the same time.
Once he’s released from prison, Bowling will have to be supervised for the rest of his life and register as a sex offender.
Maple’s mother, Jennifer Hunter, read an impactful statement to the court and said her daughter had a smile as big as the sun, and her fault was she had a bad habit of trusting people.
“I know where she is – she’s in heaven,” Hunter said. “She is looking down on us, she is smiling; she’s at peace, she’s not hurting anymore. She is our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night. There is not a day that goes by that Heather’s name is not mentioned in our home, and that’s the way it will be forever.”
After the plea deal was reached, Bowling and Maples’ mothers hugged each other.
“I’ve prayed for them since this happened,” Hunter said. “They’ve always been in my thoughts and prayers. My first thought was, ‘Oh my gosh, his mother.”
She continued, “They are victims too. They didn’t plan this. They had hope for their child, just like we had hope for ours.”
Maples’ mother told News 2 she prayed for the day that Bowling would soften his heart and admit to what he did. She added that she did not want to have to endure a trial or watch the disturbing cellphone video.
“I am very thankful that he did plead guilty because it proves he did do it,” Hunter said. “I did pray for this moment. I wanted it to end this way. I did not want to have to do appeals. I wanted to come back to Murfreesboro and do this one time.”
She added that after giving her life to God she has found it in her heart to forgive Bowling.
“I forgive Brandon Bowling for killing my daughter. From that day forward, I learned don’t worry about anything and pray about everything.”
Bowling was taken to the Rutherford County jail and will be transported to the Tennessee Department of Correction.