Defense rests: McCowan’s fate in hands of jury Tuesday
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 21, 2013 12:54PM
Updated: March 28, 2013 4:25PM
VALPARAISO — The murder trial of Dustin McCowan, 20, of Union Township will go to the jury to decide on Tuesday, after 9 a.m. closing arguments of about two hours from each side.
The defense rested Thursday afternoon.
Porter Superior Judge William Alexa has delayed closing arguments because of his usual court calls scheduled for Friday and Monday mornings.
“I’m not willing to let you deliberate starting at 2:30 because I did that before, and we were here until 3:15 in the morning,” Alexa told jurors Thursday.
McCowan is being tried for the 2011 murder of his ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old Amanda Bach of Portage. The murder happened sometime during the night to morning after she visited his home Sept. 15, 2011.
Although testimony began Feb. 5, the defense only presented its case from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday and one afternoon last week, calling 12 witnesses.
McCowan didn’t testify.
The last two witnesses left the stand after almost no questioning by defense attorney John Vouga or the prosecution.
Alexa wouldn’t allow enlarged photographs of an orange sweatshirt found near the Canadian National railroad tracks to be admitted as evidence.
Porter County Sheriff’s Officer Darrell Hammond didn’t approve the enlargements of the photos he took and couldn’t identify what parts of the sweatshirt they were.
The sweatshirt was near where searchers found Bach’s body.
Vouga called McCowan’s father Elliot McCowan to the stand to identify the sweatshirt, but Alexa said sternly four times that the photos were excluded as evidence.
Cell phone tracking expert Ryan Harmon, a former Indiana State Police officer who worked with the FBI, testified in the morning that the prosecution’s cell phone tracking only showed accurately how far from the tower the phone was during a call, not accurate plot points of location.
Harmon said all distances from four cell towers intersected at the McCowan home, but he said he couldn’t place where the phone was when it wasn’t being used.
He also said the phone could’ve been a mile away when a witness allegedly saw McCowan walking along County Road 325W.
In the afternoon, Porter County Sheriff Detective Sgt. Eric Jones testified that he and other officers went to check the areas of identified by the prosecution as possible cellphone use sites and found no evidence, some spots being inaccessible and one being in a backyard.
Two spots were three miles from each other, despite records showing that McCowan supposedly made calls or texts from them within seconds of each other.
Porter County Deputy Coroner David Souders also testified on the collection of the body, the lack of maggots on it and the amount of time it spent not being in a morgue cooler.
The defense’s fly expert testified last week that he expected fly eggs found on the body to be hatching if it was there from early Sept. 16, 2011, to when the body was found at 3:49 p.m. Sept. 17.