Restitution slow in coming in manslaughter case

A Marshalltown man convicted of involuntary manslaughter 14 years ago failed to appear in court Monday after being served notice for not making restitution payments.

Michael Dean McDowell, 32, was given an continuance after he missed his scheduled 2:30 p.m. hearing Monday. He now must appear Sept. 9 on contempt of court charges.

McDowell was ordered to pay $50 a month in restitution to the estate of Enaile Underwood whom McDowell killed Dec. 18, 1998. McDowell and Underwood were both 18 and dating at the time. McDowell was a drug dealer and according to court records had purchased a small amount of marijuana earlier in the day. He was carrying a handgun and while in a hotel room with Underwood he began twirling the gun on his finger and making a joke about John Wayne. The gun accidentally fired and Underwood was fatally struck.

McDowell was originally charged with second-degree murder but later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison. He also received a 10-year sentence on drug charges.

McDowell was also ordered to pay roughly $162,000 in restitution and funeral costs and so far has paid about $3,000 toward that debt. He was scheduled in court Monday after failing to make his monthly payments on time though records from the clerk of court show he is now current.

At the heated sentencing hearing in March 1999, Underwood’s mother, Deb Vieweg, said that her daughter was fearful of McDowell who in the week leading up to the shooting had become violent. Vieweg said McDowell had threatened to kill her, her brother and Underwood days before the shooting.

McDowell said at the sentencing he knew he’d caused Underwood’s death but that he loved her and that he was dealing drugs to help buy her food. McDowell, who is African American, also accused the court of racism, saying, “I know if I was a well-to-do white boy I would have gotten these charges dismissed.”