Man comatose after brutal assault in North Whidbey home

Deputies arrived to the East Henni Road home and found the victim unconscious, struggling to breathe

By Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

A North Whidbey man who was beaten in his home early in the morning of March 14 remains in a coma after undergoing emergency surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Island County Chief Criminal Prosecutor Eric Ohme said in court Monday.

Two men are accused of sneaking into the victim’s house while he was sleeping and assaulting him, allegedly because they were upset he had been spending time with the wife of one of the alleged assailants.

One of the suspects beat the 36-year-old man while the other prevented the victim’s mother from intervening, according to a police report.

Monday, Island County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Cliff found probable cause existed to believe 30-year-old Vanon Bowling III and 30-year-old Beau J. Scroggins committed the crimes of assault in the first degree and burglary in the first degree.

Ohme asked Cliff to set Bowling’s bail at $250,000, noting the defendant allegedly beat the victim “nearly to death” in front of his mother while she was powerless to act.

Ohme said the victim had to be airlifted to Harborview, where he underwent emergency surgery because of blood found in his brain and spinal fluid. He’s in a coma and on a ventilator and hasn’t been conscious since police arrived at his home.

Bowling’s defense attorney, Andrew Scott, said the case may involve the defense of a family member, and he suggested that Bowling should be monitored with an electronic ankle bracelet instead of held in jail.

“There is much more to this than meets the eye,” he said.

Cliff, however, said the seriousness of the crime and the horrific nature of the injuries warranted $250,000 bail.

Ohme asked that Scroggins be held on $100,000 bail. While Scroggins may not have beat the victim, Ohme claimed that he has “accomplice liability.”

Attorney Matt Montoya asked for $25,000 bail, arguing that Scroggins’ lack of a felony criminal history and his nearly lifelong ties to the community makes it unlikely that he would pose a danger or try to flee.

Cliff compromised and set his bail at $75,000.

Deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at an East Henni Road home just after 1 a.m. and found the victim unconscious on the ground, struggling to breathe and bleeding from an ear.

The victim’s mother told investigators that Bowling’s wife came over to the house earlier in the week and hung out with her son.

Afterward, Bowling allegedly threatened to kill her son if the woman went over to the house again.

The woman, however, visited again in the hours before the assault and claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse, the report states.

After she left, two men came into the house through a sliding door, went into the victim’s bedroom and assaulted him, the report indicates.

The victim’s mother said she tried to intervene as the man, whom she later identified as Bowling, beat her son, but the other man blocked her way, the report states.

After the men left, the victim walked into the living room, moaning and yelling in pain, and then lost consciousness before deputies arrived.

The victim’s mother identified Bowling from a photo lineup, saying she was “95 percent certain” he was the man who beat her son, the deputy wrote. The deputy drove her past Scroggins and she identified him as the other man, the report states.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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