Updated: December 13, 2012 7:00PM
No bloodhound evidence in trial
Evidence developed by a tracking dog used in the investigation of the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach cannot be used in the trial of Dustin McCowan, 20.
“Pursuant to Indiana case law, bloodhound evidence is inadmissible because it is an unreliable form of evidence,” Porter Superior Judge William Alexa wrote in his decision issued Thursday morning.
He cited Indiana Supreme Court cases covering bloodhounds, stating that although the dogs are trained well, not all are equally unerring.
McCowan’s attorney, John Vouga, said, “We’re gratified that the court ruled correctly. There’s a long history of unreliability with this kind of evidence.”
McCowan’s trial is set to begin Feb. 4 and continue for almost a month.
Man admits burglarizing home
The Valparaiso man who burglarized a Porter County deputy prosecutor’s home has pleaded guilty to the crime and faces up to eight years in prison.
Although the Class B felony burglary charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years, the plea that Johnathan Wayne Schroeder, 28, made Thursday includes a cap on how much of that could be incarceration.
There is no limit on how much could be probation when Schroeder is sentenced Feb. 5.
He admitted in Porter County Superior Court that he broke into the house of Rebecca Buitendorp and her husband on June 7 when he was visiting his mother next door and learned they were gone.
Angela Mattozzi of the Lake County Prosecutor’s office is acting as special prosecutor for this case.
Jury: Trucker responsible in double fatality
A jury decided Thursday that a truck driver was responsible for two deaths in a 2011 accident rather than one of the Stevensville, Mich., men killed or the driver whose car spun out in front of them.
The jury awarded $7.5 million to Robin Van Dyke, the widow of Dan Van Dyke, and $11 million to Melanie Hannah and her sons, the heirs of Rick Hannah, with the money coming from Celadon Trucking Service.
The accident happened on Interstate 94 near Indiana 249 in February 2011, a few days after a massive snowstorm.
Greg Hills of Porter County spun out, and Van Dyke stopped behind him. Trucker Earnest L. Johnson rear-ended the car containing Van Dyke and Hannah.
Local attorney Kenneth J. Allen argued that Celadon violated federal regulations by failing to teach drivers how to use extreme caution when driving in dangerous conditions and required drivers to use cruise control to save gas despite dangerous conditions.
Attorney David Pera represented Hills, and Kopka, Pinkus, Dolin and Eads of South Bend represented Celadon in the three-party case that lasted almost two weeks.