A motion filed by attorney Mitchell Peters of the public defender’s office
on Thursday seeks to “correct errors” in the sentencing of convicted murder
Peters, who has taken over as McCowans’ defense attorney, said Porter County
Superior Court Judge William Alexa’s mention of a recorded telephone
conversation at the Porter County Jail where an unidentified person talking
with McCowan “arguably made death threats” against the children of the judge
and prosecuting attorneys Matt Frost and Cheryl Polarek to see what it feels
like to have their children taken away had not been made known to defense
attorneys John Vouga and Nick Barnes prior to sentencing.
Alexa said the conversation was one of the reasons why he had decided to
sentence McCowan to 60 years in the Department of Corrections without
The motion argues that if the defense counsel “had known of the existence of
this conversation, (it) would have requested that Judge Alexa recuse himself
from this case” due to the “likelihood of creating a prejudice against the
Vouga and Barnes both signed an affidavit saying they were never provided a
copy of the recording nor were they informed of it until the judge’s
sentencing on March 28. The conversation was never brought up during
McCowan’s three-and-a-half week trial for the murder of Portage resident
If a prejudicial error is committed on the basis of extrajudicial knowledge,
said the motion, then the court under Indiana Trial Rule should “take action
to cure the error” by granting a new trial or amend the sentence.
The motion concludes “the Court’s conviction and/or sentencing of the
Defendant should be reversed” based on the reasons given.
Alexa had granted McCowan to be appointed a public defender in the 30 days
time he has to appeal.
Meanwhile, McCowan has been transported to Pendelton Correction Facility
where he will serve his time.