The 90-year-old Maplewood man charged with fatally shooting his son is mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to findings revealed in court Thursday.
Kenneth Bowser will instead be referred for civil commitment, Ramsey County District Court Judge Elena Ostby ruled.
Bowser is charged with second-degree murder in the Sept. 12 death of his son, Larry Bowser, 65, who lived with him. Neighbors have said that Larry Bowser told them his father was suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Bowser, who is in custody, was wheeled into Thursday’s hearing at the law enforcement center. His attorney, Albert Goins, has said that Bowser is frail and in poor health.
According to the criminal complaint: Bowser shot his son in the back about 7:40 p.m. after the two argued over watching television. Bowser allegedly told police that he had heard a story on TV about a son killing his father by setting him on fire, and feared that the same thing could happen to him.
Bowser also told police that he kept a pistol under his pillow. He said he was watching TV in his bedroom when his son entered and asked him to watch football with him in the living room. Bowser told his son he didn’t want to, and asked him to leave, the complaint said.
Larry Bowser later returned to the bedroom and began removing TV cables. Kenneth Bowser told police that’s when he fired the gun in his son’s direction, but only to scare him.
The bullet struck Larry Bowser, who died at the scene in the 1200 block of Hilltop Court. His father called 911 and was arrested without incident.
Maplewood police have said that they have responded to the home for medical assistance and welfare checks on Kenneth Bowser, but that there’s no police record of conflict between father and son.