Chesterton Tribune


The defense rests in McCowan trial

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Dustin McCowan’s defense rested on Thursday, without McCowan himself taking the stand.

The trial is in recess until 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, when the state and the defense will present closing arguments.

The defense’s final five witnesses--only the first three of which actually provided substantive testimony on Thursday--were Les Blythe, co-owner of Blythe’s Sport Shop; Porter County Deputy Coroner David Sauders; PCSP Det. Lt. Eric Jones; PCSP Officer Darrell Hobgood; and Elliott McCowan.


Under defense attorney John Vouga’s direct examination, Blythe testified that, every year, his business’ two locations, in Porter and Lake counties, sell 5,000 handguns loaded with ammunition in the .38 caliber family: .38, .357, .380, and 9mm shells.

The round recovered from Amanda Bach’s body has been identified as belonging to .38 caliber family.

Blythe also testified that, every year, the business’ two locations sell 20,000 rounds of Federal Premier ammunition in the .38 caliber family.

The round recovered from Bach’s body has been identified as a Federal bullet.

And Blythe testified that, every year, the business’ Porter County location sells around 300 Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers.

The handgun missing from the McCowan residence has been identified as a Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airlite.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney’s cross examination of Blythe was brief. “How many .38 caliber revolvers were missing from the McCowan house in September 2011?” he asked.

“I have no idea,” Blythe replied.

“No further questions,” Frost said.


Under Barnes’ direct examination, Sauders testified to the following:

--That he was informed Amanda Bach’s body was found at 3:43 p.m., that he cleared the scene with her body at 6:40 p.m., and that it was probably placed into a refrigerated cooler at Porter hospital’s morgue by 7:15 or 7:20 p.m.

--That the coroner’s van used to transport her body both to the morgue and to Indianapolis for the autopsy is not refrigerated.

--That Bach’s body, before being moved from the scene, appeared to be “curved around” or “wrapped around” a tree.

--That he observed an unknown substance, bluish in color, behind her right knee and to his knowledge that substance was not collected by investigators.

--That, while still at the scene, Det. Com. Jeff Biggs palpitated Bach’s head, presumably looking for blunt force trauma.

--That he observed “a very little bit of blood” beneath her body at the scene.

--That no obvious attempts appeared to have been made to conceal the body with brush or leaves.

No cross examination was made of Sauders.


Under Vouga’s direct examination, Jones testified that, at Biggs’ direction, on Nov. 15 he visited the sites of six of the plots of the “best estimated locations” of McCowan’s cell phone in the early-morning hours of Friday, Sept. 16, 2011.

Those sites Jones variously described as “densely wooded” and “not easily accessible”; said one of them was behind a private residence in the 300 north block of C.R. 725W, another behind County Line Greenhouse; and stated that at none of the sites did he find anything of evidentiary value.

Jones also testified that in the last sentence of his report, describing his activity, he stated that, should the Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airlite reported missing from the McCowan house be found by an investigator, the PCSP Detective Bureau--but not Elliott McCowan--should be notified.

No cross examination was made of Jones.


Elliott McCowan

Vouga attempted to question Officer Darrell Hobgood about an enlargement of a photograph which Hobgood had taken of the orange tee-shirt found south of the Canadian National right-of-way and west of C.R. 625W.

But Hobgood stated that he did not himself make the enlargement and Frost objected to the enlargement’s admission into evidence. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa sustained that objection.

Vouga, accordingly, was unable to put any questions about that tee shirt--as it appeared in the enlargement--to Elliott McCowan.

On Tuesday

At 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the state will have 90 minutes to make a closing argument; the defense will then have two hours; and the state will conclude with a 30-minute presentation. Alexa will then issue instructions to the jury, which then presumably will begin deliberations.




Posted 2/22/2013