Judge allows in neighbor’s testimony in McCowan trial
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent January 15, 2013 5:36PM
Provided mug shot of Dustin McCowan who is being held in the Porter County Jail on suspicion of murder. McCowan was brought back from Bloomington, IN., to face charges in the disapearance and murder of Amanda Bach whose body was found Saturday aftenoon near railroad tracks just south of the town of Wheeler. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:30AM
VALPARAISO — The testimony of a neighbor who heard a man talking to someone named Amanda on the night Amanda Bach, 19, was killed can be admitted into trial.
Porter Superior Judge William Alexa ruled late Tuesday for the February murder trial of Dustin McCowan, 20, of Union Township.
McCowan’s attorneys, John Vouga and Nick Barnes, argued on Jan. 9 that what the McCowan neighbor heard outside her window in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, was hearsay and couldn’t be admitted as evidence.
Court documents state the neighbor heard “I just can’t believe this is happening,” “Amanda, honey, you’ve got to get up,” “Amanda, get up” and “Amanda, you have to get up.”
Alexa stated in his decision, “As the defense points out, McCowan is not identified as the speaker of the commands and utterances at issue; therefore, it is unlikely the admission of such evidence outweighs the prejudicial effects.”
Alexa said during a Jan. 9 hearing and repeated in his decision that all evidence relevant to prosecution is inherently prejudicial, but this is a matter of whether it’s unfairly prejudicial.
The statement is also allowable because it’s being used to make the assertion that the statement was made, not as proof of the matter said.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Frost said at the Jan. 9 hearing on the matter that the prosecution intends to show what the neighbor heard is relevant to statements McCowan made to police about time and place. It’s not being used to prove a material issue, Frost said.