Saturday wasn’t the first time a fight between Grelan Angelo Muse Jr. and his girlfriend turned physical.
Muse, 23, is now charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend’s mother, Charlene Cowan, whom he allegedly struck with his car as she stood on her front porch. He’s accused of hitting his girlfriend, 22-year-old Shari Cowan, in the face moments earlier.
In 2009, Muse was charged with domestic violence-related simple battery after repeatedly striking Shari Cowan in the face, according to records in Bibb County State Court.
The charges were dismissed after Muse entered a court-approved, pretrial diversion program offered by the State Court Probation Office.
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But Muse’s family members say the domestic violence wasn’t one-sided.
Cowan, contacted Tuesday, declined to speak with a reporter.
Grelan Angelo Muse Sr., of Baton Rouge, La., said of his son, “Grelan was in denial. He was too embarrassed to come forward,” he said.
Muse said his son typically is calm and reserved. He didn’t have a criminal record before meeting Cowan, he said.
He’s a Christian, goal-oriented man who wanted to raise his young daughter, he said of his son.
“This is not a thug on the street,” he said.
Muse worked and tried to provide for Cowan and his daughter, even making sure that Cowan had a phone when he didn’t have one, said Markeith Howard, Muse’s brother-in-law.
“He really did love her,” he said.
The elder Muse said the couple, who have been together about four years, had communication issues and had been going to relationship counseling sessions the past few months.
“Saturday was a collaboration of everything coming together over time,” he said.
* * *
About 4 p.m. Saturday, Muse and Cowan got into another argument.
They were in the front yard of Cowan’s mother’s home on Elpis Street. Muse struck Cowan in the face, causing bruises and swelling near an eye, according to one of five arrest warrants filed against Muse this week.
At one point, 48-year-old Charlene Cowan also argued with Muse and told him she wanted him to leave, according to a police report.
After the argument, Muse got into his Mitsubishi Montero. Witnesses told police he backed away from the front porch, then drove forward as if he was going to run over Charlene Cowan. Cowan moved out of the way and Muse put the car in reverse. Then he quickly pulled forward and struck Cowan, pushing her into the front of her duplex unit, according to the report.
The car smashed through the front wall and partially entered the house, according to the warrants.
Shari Cowan and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Harmonie, were standing in the living room, near where the car crashed into the house.
Muse drove away, but he stopped later at the police department’s east Macon precinct, just a few miles from his mother’s home.
He’d been living with his mother for the past month, his father said.
Muse was arrested about 5:30 p.m. Saturday on charges of murder, cruelty to children, family violence-related battery and criminal damage to property. He also is charged with three counts of aggravated assault, according to arrest warrants.
Charlene Cowan’s sister, Rachelle Head, was in Atlanta when her brother called and said “get here now.”
Driving to Macon where Cowan and their brother lived, the Atlanta woman knew her sister had been struck by a car.
But she didn’t know how serious the injuries were.
“I’m thinking OK, somebody knocked her down and she broke her leg or broke her arm,” Head said.
She figured she was making the drive so she could stay a little while and help her sister recuperate.
But when she arrived at the hospital, she discovered she was too late.
Her sister had died two minutes earlier.
* * *
Born in New York, Charlene Cowan moved to Macon in 1988 to be closer to her parents, who had a house in south Macon. She was pregnant with Shari.
Cowan worked as a hairdresser and then as a medical assistant until a degenerative joint disease forced her to stop working. The ailment made it hard for her to stand for long periods of time, Head said.
She lived alone with her pit bull, Snow.
Cowan enjoyed cooking and was fond of trying out Publix’s meal recipes of the week.
“Iron Chef,” “CSI” and “Law and Order” were her favorite TV shows. She wouldn’t answer the phone if they were on.
“She’d say, ‘My shows are on,’ ” Head said.
Ray Head, Rachelle’s husband, said Cowan was community-minded and was the kind of woman who never met a stranger.
Even when visiting in Atlanta, Cowan “would just mix in with everybody,” he said.
She especially enjoyed spending time with her granddaughter.
Rachelle Head said she’d planned on coming to Macon for a visit Saturday, but she stayed in Atlanta because Cowan was keeping little Harmonie.
Their last phone conversation was on Friday night. It was just sisters chitchatting.
After hanging up, Cowan sent her sister a phone message with a music attachment. She’d never sent anything like that before, Head said.
The gospel song included the line, “In the morning you’ll be all right.”
In the minutes after being struck by the car, Cowan uttered similar words to family members.
She told Shari to go get her asthma pump from her room before she left for the hospital.
“She said, ‘I’m all right,’ ” Head said.
Then, just before Cowan was loaded into an ambulance, her younger brother grabbed her hand, asking if she was OK and if she could see him.
She said she could and added, “I’m all right,” Head said.
“She squeezed his hand so hard. ... And that was the last thing she said,” Head said.
Although Head didn’t hear the words with her own ears, they’re the words she’s going to try to remember.
“It’s comforting to know she wasn’t worried,” she said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.