Chesterton Tribune


State gives reasons for McCowan guilt

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Before jury members deliberated the case of the State v. Dustin McCowan on Tuesday, Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa allotted each side two hours for closing arguments.

The prosecution started with an hour and a half with its summary on why it believes McCowan intentionally murdered Amanda Bach, his former girlfriend, on Sept. 16, 2011. The defense then stated its case of McCowan’s innocence followed by a half-hour rebuttal by the prosecution.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek told jurors “we know Dustin McCowan killed Amanda Bach” for the following reasons based on witness’ testimony:

• Gunpowder stippling found on Bach’s hand showed that she was trying to defend herself by intentionally holding her arm up when she was fatally shot in the neck.

• Bach was with McCowan from Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, at 11 p.m. and that Friday until 1:30 a.m. and he was the last to have reportedly seen her, Polarek said.

• McCowan’s neighbor Linda Phillips heard a male voice repeat several times, “Amanda, get up,” and a female voice that uttered the words, “I can’t believe this is happening” between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. that Friday, Polarek said.

• McCowan had access to guns and would show them off to friends during parties at his residence, Polarek said.

• McCowan’s father, Elliot McCowan, told police that his five-shot Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airlite was missing, not stolen, from under his couch when he went to look for it. The bullet that was recovered from Bach’s autopsy was a jacketed hollow-point bullet in the .38 caliber family were “both of the same design and character” as the Federal .38 special cartridges that Elliot McCowan turned over to investigators, Polarek said.

• The place where Bach’s body was located on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, was in the same area where McCowan dumped cups, beer cans and liquor bottles after parties at his residence, Polarek said.

• The flip-flop sandals that belonged to Bach were discovered in different locations around the railroad substation to the north and east of the McCowan residence. The flip-flops were facing in different directions, Polarek said.

• The orange long-sleeved shirt found on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011, by a PCSP officer west of the CR 625 W and CR 300 N intersection on the south side of the railroad tracks had Amanda Bach’s DNA on it. There was a faint blood stain on the shirt that suggested the shirt had been laundered. McCowan was wearing an orange shirt when he left for Indiana University in Bloomington and is known to be a wearer of orange shirts, Polarek said.

• McCowan’s statements to the police on how many calls he placed to Bach’s phone that Friday morning were inconsistent, Polarek said.

• McCowan didn’t drink at I.U. “because he had a guilty conscience knowing the police were coming for him,” Polarek said.

• During a “pregnancy scare,” McCowan stated he would punch Bach in the stomach and still believed Bach to be pregnant even when friends told him a pregnancy test they gave her showed negative results, Polarek said.

• Bach had started a romantic relationship with McCowan’s best friend Brandon Hutchins during the summer of 2011. McCowan had texted Hutchins, “She’s coming between us, dude,” Polarek said.

• Union Twp. resident Michael Steege said he was 100 percent sure he saw McCowan walking on CR 650 W at about 2:25 a.m. on Sept. 16 while driving to work, Polarek said.

• The driver’s seat in Bach’s gold 2006 Pontiac G6 was moved too far back for Bach to have driven it, Polarek said.

• The “best estimated locations” on McCowan’s cell phone track suggest movement toward the north of his home between the hours 1:30 and 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 16.

• Elliot McCowan drove with Dustin from their house to Dean’s General Store on Ind. 130 a little before 7 a.m. on Sept. 16. When they returned, he said nothing to Allison Bolde about Amanda’s mysterious disappearance and went to bed, Polarek said.

• McCowan “fled” to I.U. instead of staying behind to search because, as Walbright said in her testimony, he didn’t like conflict. McCowan told Bolde before he left “I’m going to party in her honor” as if he knew she was dead, Polarek said.

• I.U. student Jessica Guy testified McCowan had no reaction when he learned by phone that Bach’s body had been found.

• Jailhouse friend Charles Wade III said McCowan was nervous about police finding a fingerprint on Bach’s car and feared gunshot residue would be found on his sweatshirt he was wearing on Sept. 15 while shooting. Wade said McCowan told him he hid Bach’s cell phone in a mattress inside an abandoned house on CR 350 North, Polarek said.

• Another inmate Daniel Grunhard sent letters to the County Prosecutor’s office saying McCowan made comments about shooting a girl named Amanda because “she crossed him.” Grunhard conveyed information about the case he could have only gotten from McCowan, Polarek said.

• The $10,000 reward offered by Elliot McCowan in February 2012 for any information that would bring about any new leads into the PSCP’s investigation yielded no tips, Polarek said. She said that indicated investigation on the part of the PCSP was complete.

During her closing argument, Polarek refuted the major claim by the defense that police investigation in the case was “shoddy and obligatory.” She said police contacted hospitals checking if they had seen Bach, searched her house and McCowan’s for clues, conducted a “massive” two day search with 150-plus people, followed up on all alibis, followed up on 30-plus tips, collected 90 pieces of evidence to send to the FBI for analysis, got cell phone records from 17 people, checked videos from the Canadian National railroad, verified that Bach’s body had not been sexually assaulted, and got a search warrant to get a hair on McCowan’s dog.

“Everyone was looked at and everyone was excluded but Dustin McCowan,” said Polarek.


Posted 2/27/2013