WJHL.com - Kerry Bowers, convicted of killing Scotty Trexler, released from

Kerry Bowers, convicted of killing Scotty Trexler, released from West Tennessee State Penitentiary

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Kerry Phillip Bowers (Source: Tennessee Department of Corrections) Kerry Phillip Bowers (Source: Tennessee Department of Corrections)
HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) -

A man found guilty of killing a 2-year-old boy, which sparked outrage in the community and a change in state law, was released from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Friday.

Kerry Phillip Bowers, 48, who was found guilty in the killing of Scotty Trexler in Hawkins County in 1987, was released after serving 26 years of a 36-year sentence.

Hawkins County District Attorney Berkeley Bell said he was disappointed that the Tennessee Department of Corrections did not alert his office that Bowers had been released, but said the law has had an impact in the state.

"The tragedy ultimately led to the Scotty Trexler Law, which has been a tremendous asset to the citizens of the state of Tennessee in prosecuting child abusers that kill children," Bell said.

The Scotty Trexler Law was passed in 1988 in Tennessee, which would now allow aggravated child abuse to be a factor in charging someone with first-degree murder in the death of a child.

In 1987, premeditation or intent was required to charge anyone with first-degree murder, and Bowers was charged with second-degree murder.

Bell said Bowers was initially charged him "with first-degree premeditated murder for the way that he had abused this child causing the child to die."

The first-degree murder charge was later reduced to second-degree murder because the court could not show premeditation.

Trexler's mother, Tammy, was also convicted of aggravated assault and failure to report child abuse in the case.

Some people in Hawkins County, though, think Bower's should not have been released.

Hawkins County resident Danny Breeding said, "a crime like that, I was very disappointed in the trial and his sentence. I only wish that the law was intact back then as it is today, and this guy wouldn't see ... daylight."

A Hawkins County couple will soon face either the death penalty or life in prison for their role in the death of 5-year-old Alexa Linboom.

According to investigators, Linboom died in January 2012 after being punished by her father and stepmother for drinking grape soda that wasn’t hers.

Bell said that Randall and Mary Vaughn allegedly forced Linboom to drink two liters of soda and water in a short period of time as punishment.

The Vaughns are both charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect.

Copyright 2014 WJHL. All rights reserved. 

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