Pair Sentenced for Beating Roommate to Death Over Dead Kitten

A man and a woman who beat their roommate to death because they were unhappy with the way he disposed of a dead kitten have been sentenced to almost four years in prison.

Enzel Bowler, 44, and Chadd Dinger, 35, both of Portland, were convicted of criminally negligent homicide this month. They avoided a murder charge because authorities don't think they intended to kill Justin Hawkins.

Hawkins, the father of two young daughters, died June 8, one week after the attack.

Prosecutors said Bowler asked Hawkins to care for her nine pit bulls and several kittens. When one of the kittens died, Hawkins reportedly wrapped it in a bag and put it in the trash.

When Bowler arrived home and learned how the kitten's death was handled, she decided Hawkins had to pay.

"She instigated it, and Chadd was there to back her up," said Deputy District Attorney Greg Moawad of Multnomah County.

Bowler said she slapped Hawkins a few times but denied inflicting his fatal injuries. She said Wednesday that she was going to prison for a crime she didn't commit.

Kathryne Clark, Hawkins' mother, who was in the courtroom, said she'd hoped for an apology.

"I actually expected to hear 'I'm so sorry,"' Clark said. "I just don't understand how you can't say 'I'm sorry."'

Though Hawkins was in pain after the beating, he waited six days before going to a hospital.

Several friends of Hawkins, who was formerly homeless, said he didn't seek treatment because he honored the code of the street in which friends don't snitch on other friends. He explained away his visible injuries by saying he'd been attacked while riding public transportation.

Bowler's defense attorney, Alex Hamalian, said Hawkins and his client had made amends before his death. Shortly after the beating, Bowler had been arrested and brought to jail under accusations of defrauding the state Department of Human Services. Hamalian said Hawkins talked to Bowler in jail and offered to contribute money to her jail account.

"They made up and they thought everything was fine, ... and next thing you know, he's dead," Hamalian said.