There will be one less chair in the Porter County Superior Judge William
Alexa’s courtroom on Tuesday.
Both sides in the trial of Dustin McCowan asked that a juror be excused when
he made it known to his peers that he accidentally spoke briefly about the
case with his wife over the weekend.
Alexa said any juror speaking about the case to anyone is in violation of
his admonishment that he gives each time the jury leaves the courtroom.
Jurors are also not allowed to read about the case in the media or on the
internet, so as to remain fair and impartial.
After Alexa ordered his courtroom be cleared out Monday, the juror said his
wife began talking about a specific newspaper article that had McCowan’s
picture appearing with it. The juror said he was about to ask his wife about
the style of McCowan’s hair, whether it was straight or curly, but caught
himself talking before she could answer.
He shared the anecdote with a few of his fellow jurors, and even though he
told the judge he felt he could perform his duty without prejudice, Chief
Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl
Polarek and defense attorneys Nick Barnes and John Vouga all agreed that the
juror be dismissed.
One of the jury’s four alternates will now move up to fill the spot. The
final jury panel contains 12 members.
Alexa also requested that members of the press refrain from talking to the
ex-juror until the trial is over.