Former heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe could face up to two years in prison for kidnapping and assaulting his estranged wife in 1998 after a federal appeals court today rejected a lighter sentence handed down last year by a North Carolina judge.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a trial court erred in considering Bowe's diminished mental capacity from beatings sustained in the ring when handing down the sentence. The trial court was ordered to either impose an 18- to 24-month prison sentence mandated by a plea agreement with federal prosecutors or take the case to trial.
"This matter is remanded with instructions that the district court determine whether Bowe's guilty plea should be set aside, or whether he should be required to comply with his agreement not to seek or argue for a departure from the sentencing guidelines," a three-judge panel for the appeals court in Richmond said.
Pleaded Guilty to Abducting, Stabbing Wife
The 6-foot 5-inch, 260-pound retired boxer pleaded guilty in June 1998 to abducting his then-estranged wife, Judy Bowe, and the couple's five children from their home near Charlotte, N.C., in February 1998 in an attempt to reconcile with his family.
According to prosecutors, Bowe stabbed Judy Bowe in the breast with a knife and threatened to kill her if he caught her with another man as he drove his family from North Carolina toward his home in suburban Maryland.
Police stopped Bowe in South Hill, Va., near the North Carolina-Virginia border, after his wife alerted two women in a McDonald's restaurant restroom that she was being kidnapped.
Departing from terms of the plea agreement, a federal court in Charlotte in February 2000 sentenced Bowe to 30 days in prison. He also was ordered to seek treatment for impulsive behavior stemming from brain damage suffered during 250 amateur and professional bouts, and not to box while on probation.
Bowe defeated Evander Holyfield in November 1992 to win the undisputed world heavyweight title, only to lose the title to Holyfield a year later. He retired from boxing after a brutal fight in December 1996 with Andrew Golota, who was ahead on points but disqualified for punching below the belt.
Bowe was jailed briefly in February for allegedly violating terms of his probation by assaulting his new wife and a nephew in three separate incidents in Maryland and New York.
Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment on the status of the his probation.