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Originally published Monday, January 14, 2013 at 7:20 PM

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$10M bail set in slaying at Seattle stoplight

A judge set bail at $10 million for a Seattle man who is charged with first-degree murder in the August shooting death of motorist Yancy Noll.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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In a courtroom packed with friends and relatives of the victim, a judge set bail at $10 million Monday for a 31-year-old Seattle man accused of shooting the QFC wine steward while both men were in their cars at a North Seattle intersection last year.

King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler said that while the fatal shooting Aug. 31 was both "extremely violent and astonishingly pointless," state law dictates that suspects have the right to have bail set in most circumstances. Thomas Dinh Bowman had been held without bail since his arrest Sept. 21.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O'Toole said it's unlikely, however, that Bowman will be able to make bail.

"At least I hope not. It's as high as I've ever seen," he said.

Friends of the victim, Yancy Noll, spoke after the hearing and said they believe Bowman should have remained in jail without bail, but they were comforted that he and his family are unlikely to raise the $1 million in cash — 10 percent of the bail amount — required for his release.

"We're thankful for the very high bail," said Annie Jacobsen.

Defense attorney John Henry Browne had asked that Bowman's bail be set at $1 million because he has no previous criminal history and has strong ties to the community.

O'Toole had argued that the random nature of the crime, for which investigators have not yet determined a motive — as well as Bowman's interest in firearms and his "sophisticated" attempts to cover up the crime — "screams for a no-bail hold."

Bowman is charged with first-degree murder with a firearm in the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Noll. Prosecutors allege that Noll's vehicle was at a stoplight when Bowman pulled up alongside him and opened fire, hitting Noll three times in the head.

A 9-mm bullet casing was found next to Noll's car, a spent bullet was found in his dashboard and another bullet was found inside a nearby house, according to charging papers. Noll's window had been rolled down, according to charging documents, so shattered glass on the roadway suggested that the shooter had fired through a closed passenger-side window.

Witnesses said the shooter drove away in a silver BMW convertible, and they provided descriptions that resulted in the release of a sketch of the gunman's profile.

According to police and prosecutors, an anonymous tipster saw the sketch and called police with Bowman's name and address. The caller also told police that Bowman had anger-management problems, drove a silver BMW Z4 and probably owned a gun.

As police began to investigate Bowman, they found that he had a concealed-weapons permit and a registered .40-caliber Glock handgun, according to the charging papers. They also found photos of his face in profile on his wife's Facebook page that were "strikingly similar to the composite sketch of the suspect," the papers say.

According to the documents, police obtained a warrant to search Bowman's home and workplace and found his BMW in the garage with a new passenger-side window and new tires that Bowman had paid for with cash.

The old tires, the treads of which matched skid marks from the shooting scene, were found wrapped in plastic at Bowman's workplace, charging documents say.

Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com.

Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

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