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McCowan to cellmate: ‘I shot a girl ... because she crossed me’

DustMcCowan

Dustin McCowan

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Updated: March 22, 2013 10:29AM



VALPARAISO — The trial of Dustin McCowan, 20, for the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach switched directions Wednesday as the defense began its case — but not before the final prosecution witness said McCowan admitted in jail to shooting Bach.

Former Porter County Jail inmate Daniel A. Grunhard, 35, said McCowan told him over the course of three jail conversations that he shot her.

McCowan initially told Grunhard he was in for a shooting, which Grunhard presumed was gang-related because of the number of gang members in their section.

“He said, ‘No, I shot a girl.’ I asked him, ‘Why would you shoot a girl?’ He said, ‘Because she crossed me,’ ” Grunhard said.

Bach was killed on Sept. 15 or 16 in 2011.

Another time, Grunhard said, McCowan allegedly told him the state had no case and couldn’t find the pistol he used, which he’d buried.

And Grunhard said he overheard McCowan tell another inmate that the prosecution “would never be able to prove he shot the bitch — his words, not mine.”

Attorney John Cantrell conducted a cross-examination because defense attorneys John Vouga and Nick Barnes have both represented Grunhard, who is serving six years for drug-related charges after failing out of the Porter County Drug Court therapeutic program.

Cantrell questioned whether Grunhard had gotten an easier sentence because he was willing to testify against Edgar Tillery, who shot up his Portage workplace in July 2010 and bragged about it in jail

Grunhard said he had not and that the prosecution did not talk to him about McCowan until after he was sentenced and no longer employing Vouga or Barnes.

For the defense witnesses, a friend of McCowan’s, who’d allegedly said she was glad Bach was dead, testified that she and McCowan had been involved physically and that she felt he was unjustly prosecuted.

Shelby Reilly admitted she was jealous “maybe a little” of Bach and wore a bright orange zip-up sweatshirt.

The prosecution introduced two long-sleeve orange shirts as evidence over the past 11 days of testimony, one that McCowan was wearing when arrested and a matching one found near the railroad tracks where Bach’s body was found.

Reilly said she did not know McCowan was involved with other women and was in love with him, but the other women were part of why their relationship ended.

She said she did not recall saying anything about Bach, but she texted with McCowan twice the night Bach disappeared.

He replied to her about 11:19 p.m. that he wasn’t home and then asked her about 12:34 a.m. if she would come over.

McCowan said Bach left his place at 1 a.m., and Reilly said she did not know if Bach was with him when he texted.

A newspaper delivery woman testified that she saw the black flip-flops allegedly owned by Bach in the gravel drive of a utility station near McCowan’s home for two nights in a row, but they weren’t found there later.

Barnes said the defense plans to call five more witnesses on Thursday and may be ready to wrap up then.

No date is set for closing arguments and the start of jury deliberations.



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