Monday, February 4, 2013

Amanda Bach Murder Case - Dustin McCowan Trial and Conviction

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[IN] Amanda Bach Murder Case - 
Dustin McCowan's Appeal
http://michiganoidv.blogspot.com/2014/04/in-amanda-bach-murder-case-dustin.html


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The Case:
Dustin McCowan: son of Crown Point Indiana police officer Joseph Elliott McCowan. Convicted in February 2013 of murdering Amanda Bach [Portage IN - September 16, 2011]. Sentenced to 60 years in prison [March 2013].


Immediately following the murder of Amanda Bach the Porter County SD also began investigating Dustin McCowan's father: Officer Joseph Elliot McCowan, for his possible role in hiding key evidence [ Amanda's cell phone; the gun; etc] in the murder case against his son / Dustin. In April 2013 the Porter County SD discontinued its investigation of Officer McCowan. The sheriff department, prosecutor, and Amanda's parents believe that Officer McCowan played a role in covering up the murder of Amanda.



The Porter County Sheriff Department said the investigation of Officer McCowan could be re-opened if they receive new information in the case.








For murder trial testimony, man gets jailtime break
April 01, 2013 2:15 pm
Bob Kasarda



VALPARAISO - While Charles Wade was not promised anything for agreeing to testify in February against convicted murderer Dustin McCowan, he was rewarded Monday.



Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford said he considered Wade's cooperation when deciding to suspend seven of the 15 years of prison time Wade was given for a 2010 carjacking.


Bradford also said he had no objection to a request by the defense to allow 29-year-old Wade to continue to be held at the jail in Pulaski County to keep him out of harm's way after cooperating in the Porter County murder case.


Wade pleaded guilty a year ago to felony counts of carjacking and confinement stemming from accusations of abducting his former girlfriend at knifepoint in July 2010 and returned the following day to commit the same offense against the woman and her daughter.


Wade showed up in a different courtroom during the third week of the McCowan murder trial in February to tell jurors how McCowan had told him while they were locked up together he was concerned about police discovering blood and gun powder evidence in connection with the slaying of Portage resident Amanda Bach, 19.


McCowan said he accidentally struck Bach in the nose on the night in question while reaching for her cellphone and some of her blood may have dripped on the carpet of his home, Wade said. McCowan also reportedly told Wade he was getting a sweatshirt for the blood and the sweatshirt may have gun power residue on it from him shooting earlier while wearing it.


Wade said McCowan told him when he realized he still had Bach's cellphone after she left, he discarded it in an abandoned house near where he lived. McCowan said his father later found Bach's phone, Wade said.


McCowan's defense team accused Wade of lying in hopes of easing his sentence in the carjacking and criminal confinement case.


McCowan was sentenced last week to a near-maximum 60 years behind bars for the Sept. 16, 2011 shooting death of Bach, who was his former girlfriend.










Indiana Man, 20, Convicted in Amanda Bach Murder

20-year-old Dustin McCowan found guilty in September 2011 murder
Thursday, Feb 28, 2013
Updated 12:33 AM CDT
NBC News - Chicago, IL



A northern Indiana jury has convicted a man in his ex-girlfriend's fatal shooting following a nearly month-long trial.



The Porter County jury found 20-year-old Dustin McCowan of Wheeler guilty of murder late Tuesday night in the September 2011 killing of 19-year-old Amanda Bach.


Friends of the slain woman shouted "Remember Amanda" outside the courtroom following the verdict, while McCowan closed his eyes and sat down after the verdict was read. A judge set McCowan's sentencing for March 28.


Bach's mother, Sandy Bach, said she and her husband were pleased that the verdict provided justice for their daughter.


"Amanda did not not deserve to die at the hands of this sick, jealous coward," said Bach. "She had so much more to share and give of her life."


Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost tells The Times of Munster he's gratified by the verdict.


Bach's body was found about 300 yards from McCowan's home.


While there's been a verdict in the case, investigators said their probe isn't over. Detectives vowed to continue to look into behavior of McCowan's father, a Crown Point police officer, who refused to let authorities search his property.


"This is not going to end. We've focused on a lot of stuff and there's still more information that we're going to focus on with this case," said Detective Cmdr. Jeff Biggs.









Mom: No winners in McCowan murder conviction
February 28, 2013 12:00 am
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - Just hours after a jury found Dustin McCowan guilty of murdering her 19-year-old daughter, Sandy Bach told reporters Wednesday morning there are no winners in the case.
"This is a bittersweet victory," she said.

Bill Bach, father of murder victim Amanda Bach, said he wasn't even certain how he was feeling in the early wake of the verdict.

"It really hasn't totally sunk in," he said.


The couple were among those on hand just before 11 p.m. Tuesday when 20-year-old McCowan was found guilty of shooting Amanda Bach in the throat during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, and disposing of her body along railroad tracks near the Union Township home he was living in at the time with his father.


McCowan, 20, who was standing when the verdict was read, closed his eyes and then sat down and looked toward the floor.


Twenty-two police officers stood guard inside the courtroom of Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa when the verdict was read.


Cheering could be heard from outside the downtown courthouse minutes later. Supporters shouted, "Remember Amanda!"


"Finally, some justice," Bill Bach said Tuesday night.


"It doesn’t bring her back, but justice did prevail," Sandy Bach said.


Bill Bach praised the efforts of prosecutors and police.


When asked how he and his wife endured the trial, which included graphic testimony and photos, he replied, "By focusing on getting justice for Amanda."


"She was brutally murdered," Bill Bach said.


Sandy Bach added, "By a coward."


"He can’t kill again," Bill Bach said.


Bill Bach said he is hoping for the maximum when McCowan is sentenced at 2 p.m. March 28, but pointed out McCowan still will be a young man when he’s released. McCowan faces between 45 and 65 years behind bars.


Defense attorney John Vouga said Tuesday night he plans to appeal the decision.


"We knew we had an uphill battle with this being a Porter County jury," he said.


Defense attorney Nicholas Barnes was surprised by the verdict.

"I’m saddened for the McCowan family," Barnes said. "Justice was not served here today."


Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said Tuesday he was gratified by the verdict, which he said showed that 18 months of work by his office and police was not in vain.


Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said there was a lot of evidence.

"All the things pointed to Dustin McCowan," she said.









Bach family, Porter Co. officials news conference

February 27, 2013 2:59 pm
Brian Vernellis
NWI Times


video
[IN] Bach family, Porter Co. officials news conference - Feb 27, 2013

Porter County law enforcement officials and Amanda Bach's family spoke with the media following Tuesday's conviction of Dustin McCowan in Bach's murder.









Dustin McCowan guilty of murder in 2011 NW Ind. case
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
WLS-TV Chicago IL
Ben Bradley

video
[IN] Dustin McCowan guilty of murder in 2011 NW Ind. case - Feb 27, 2013

(VALPARAISO, Ind.) (WLS) -- Jurors handed down a guilty verdict in the murder trial of northwest Indiana's Dustin McCowan, who was accused of killing his former girlfriend.


The verdict came late Tuesday. McCowan, 20, of Wheeler, did not take the stand in his own defense. The son of a Crown Point, Ind., police officer, McCowan was charged with the murder of Amanda Bach, 19, in September of 2011.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost tells The Times of Munster he's gratified by the verdict.

Friends of the slain woman shouted "Remember Amanda" outside the courtroom following the verdict, while McCowan closed his eyes and sat down after the verdict was read. A judge set McCowan's sentencing for March 28.

There were hugs after the verdict came down but it does not end Bach's parents' heartbreak.

"Our lives have totally changed," her mother Sandy Bach said. "It's not the same without Amanda."

Bill and Sandy Bach broke their public silence to praise the work of police and prosecutors who earned a conviction against McCowan.
"Amanda needed some justice," her father Bill Bach said. "This wasn't really justice but it was small, little, it was a small piece of satisfaction I guess."

"This is a bittersweet victory. Although justice has been served there really are no winners here," Sandy Bach said.

For nearly three days, while friends and family searched for Amanda Bach while she missing, McCowan went on a road trip.
While her parents prayed, he partied.

Bach's body was eventually close to railroad tracks found about 300 yards from McCowan's home.
Prosecutors said the bullet in her body matched the ammunition in McCowan's father's gun, which was missing.

Dustin McCowan was said to have been jealous about his and Bach's drifting relationship.

The conviction frees up investigators to look into whether Dustin McCowan's police officer father helped him cover up the crime.

Neighbors report seeing his Crown Point squad car at home shortly after Amanda Bach disappeared.

It's an emotionally charged case, not just for Amanda Bach's friends and family, but also police and prosecutors who view them like family.

"I've gotten to know them. Sorry. This was tough," Porter County Sheriff's Police Capt. Jeff Biggs said.










Dustin McCowan Convicted Of Killing Ex-Girlfriend Amanda Bach

February 27, 2013 9:04 AM
CBS News, Chicago, IL

video
[IN] Investigation of Officer Joseph Elliot McCowan in Amanda's murder- Feb 27, 2013



VALPARAISO, Ind. (CBS) – 19-year-old Amanda Bach was shot and killed two years ago. Now a jury convicted her ex-boyfriend Dustin McCowan of murder.




CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey talked to Bach’s family about what it took to catch the killer.


Sometimes hugs are the only way to say thank you and today Amanda Bach’s parents said "thank you" to those who, after months of agony, helped convict their daughter’s killer.


"Amanda needed some justice and this really isn’t justice for her but it’s a small little piece of satisfaction I guess," said Bill Bach, Amanda’s father.


20-year-old Dustin McCowan was found guilty Tuesday of murdering Bach in 2011.


Investigators say after a short relationship, McCowan became jealous. He shot Bach once in the throat, then dumped her body on traintracks just 300 yards from his house.

There was no DNA and police never recovered the gun, but instead relied on cell phone pings and text messages as evidence.



"This was a largely circumstantial case which I like to analyze it as each piece of evidence is a small arrow that pointed at the guilt of Dustin McCowan," said Matt Frost, Porter County Chief Prosecutor.

And with the trial now behind them, Amanda’s family and police say goodbye. A bittersweet ending to a story that should never have happened.



Dustin McCowan’s father is a Crown Point police officer. 

Investigators say they are looking into whether or not he helped his son cover up Amanda’s murder. So far, charges have not been filed.



Dustin McCowan will be sentenced in March.











Reactions to guilty verdict in McCowan trial

February 27, 2013 12:58 am
Brian Vernellis
NWI Times
video
[IN] Reactions to guilty verdict in McCowan trial - Feb 27, 2013

Attorneys and the family of Amanda Bach responded to the guilty verdict handed down to Dustin McCowan in the her murder.










McCowan guilty of murder in death of Amanda Bach
February 26, 2013 11:57 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times














VALPARAISO - A Porter County jury took six and half hours to find Dustin McCowan guilty of murder late Tuesday night in the Sept. 16, 2011, slaying of his former girlfriend Amanda Bach.



McCowan, who was standing when the verdict was read, closed his eyes and then sat down and looked toward the floor.


Twenty-two police officers stood guard inside the courtroom of Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa when the verdict was read shortly before 11 p.m.


McCowan’s mother cried in the courtroom, as did Bach’s mother, who was holding a photo of her daughter.


Cheering could be heard from outside the downtown courthouse minutes after the verdict was announced. Supporters shouted, "Remember Amanda!"


Bach’s parents, Bill and Sandy Bach, said they were pleased with the verdict.


"Finally, some justice," Bill Bach said.


"It doesn’t bring her back, but justice did prevail," Sandy Bach said.


Bill Bach praised the efforts of prosecutors and police.


"We never lost faith in them," he said.


When asked how he and his wife endured the trial, which included graphic testimony and photos, he replied, "By focusing on getting justice for Amanda."


"She was brutally murdered," Bill Bach said.


Sandy Bach added, "By a coward."


"He can’t kill again," Bill Bach said.


Bill Bach said he is hoping for the maximum when 20-year-old McCowan is sentenced at 2 p.m. March 28, but pointed out McCowan still will be a young man when he’s released.


Defense attorney Nicholas Barnes asked for each juror to be polled after the verdict was read, requiring each one to affirm his or her decision before the courtroom.


Defense attorney John Vouga said he plans to appeal the decision.

"We knew we had an uphill battle with this being a Porter County jury," he said.


Barnes was surprised by the verdict.


"I’m saddened for the McCowan family," Barnes said. "Justice was not served here today."


Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said he was gratified by the verdict, which he said showed that 18 months of work by his office and police was not in vain.


Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said there was a lot of evidence.

"All the things pointed to Dustin McCowan," she said.


The jury began its work at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday after listening to a total of four hours of closing arguments from prosecutors and defense attorneys.


Closing arguments became heated when Barnes accused prosecutors of hiding witnesses and otherwise deceiving the jury during the three weeks of the trial.


Frost told jurors he was disturbed by the accusations.


"We gave them everything," Frost said. "He (Barnes) should be ashamed of himself, but he won't be."


Barnes also criticized police for failing to carry out a complete investigation and eliminating other potential suspects.


Among those Barnes referred to was Wheeler resident Nick Prochno, who led police to the area where Bach's body was found.

"This is a person that fits having done this," Barnes said. "Dustin McCowan, this boy, did not kill her."


Frost said all evidence points to McCowan as the killer, and not Prochno.


"Is it no wonder no one wants to get involved anymore?" Frost asked the jury.


Barnes pointed out that no DNA or bodily evidence was found linking McCowan to the murder.


"The science will set Dustin McCowan free," Barnes said.


Frost told jury there are greater limitations to DNA evidence than is portrayed on television.


"Real life is not like a CSI program," Frost said. "Science is not setting Dustin McCowan free".

Barnes had compared the case against McCowan to a rotten peach.

"It's time to throw this peach away," he said.


Earlier Tuesday Polarek told jurors the only element of murder in dispute is whether Dustin McCowan is the person responsible for killing Bach.


Polarek spent most of the morning recapping the evidence presented over the past three weeks that she believes shows McCowan is guilty of the Sept. 16, 2011 murder.


Polarek said the defense is trying to blur the facts.


"It is a classic throw everything at the wall to see if it sticks," Polarek told jurors.


Polarek also offered potential motives for the slaying, including that McCowan had falsely believed that Bach was pregnant and that Bach was coming in between him and a friend.


Tuesday morning began with friends of Bach showing their support outside the Porter County Courthouse.


Christine Duda stood in the freezing rain outside the courthouse holding a sign that read, "She who leaves a trail of glitter is never forgotten."


"Her personality just sparkled," she said in reference to glitter on the sign. "She’s testing us right now," she said about the winter storm that was just starting to hit the area.








Dustin McCowan trial: Jury in deliberations
February 26, 2013
WLS-TV News, Chicago IL

(VALPARAISO, Ind.) (WLS) -- A jury is deliberating the murder trial of a northwest Indiana man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in 2011.

Dustin McCowan did not take the stand in his own defense.


He's the son of a Crown Point, Indiana police officer and is charged with the murder of Amanda Bach.


The defense argued that there's no physical evidence in the case.









Supporters of Amanda Bach gather at courthouse

February 26, 2013 11:44 am
Brian Vernellis
NWI Times

video
[IN] Supporters of Amanda Bach gather at courthouse - Feb 26, 2013

With the verdict in the Dustin McCowan murder trial expected soon, supporters of Amanda Bach and her family gathered at the Porter County Courthouse.










Supporters gather outside courthouse before closing arguments in McCowan trial

February 26, 2013 9:51 am
Jonathon Miano
NWI Times










Murder trial ending Tuesday

February 25, 2013 1:50 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times


VALPARAISO - After three weeks of evidence and testimony, the jury is expected to begin deliberating Tuesday on the fate of Dustin McCowan -- accused of murdering his former girlfriend Amanda Bach.



Security, heightened during the trial for the large crowds of supporters present for each family, is expected to be enhanced even further Tuesday. There is also talk of demonstrations outside the courthouse.


Prosecutors and the defense will be given up to two hours each Tuesday morning to sum up the weeks of evidence presented during the trial.


The jury will then be provided with instructions from the court before heading off behind closed doors with the goal of coming up with a verdict. The group needs to come up with a unanimous decision to either free or convict McCowan.


The defense wrapped up its case Thursday after presenting 11 witnesses over a two-day period. Prosecutors presented 43 witnesses over the 2 1/2 weeks prior.


McCowan, 20, is accused of shooting 19-year-old Bach in the throat during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011 after she showed up at the Union Township-home he was living in at the time with his father. Bach's partially clothed body was found the following day less than 300 yards from the house in wooded area along County Road 625 West at the Canadian National Railroad tracks.


Prosecutors have presented witnesses who said they saw McCowan walking in the area on the night in question and heard gunshots, a man's voice saying, "Amanda get up," and a female responding, "I can't believe this is happening."


An FBI witness also testified a puncture in the sidewall of Bach's car tire appeared to have been created by a stabbing from a knife.


McCowan, who opted against taking the stand to tell his side of the story, maintains his innocence. His defense team spent much of the trial criticizing the police investigation as inadequate. The defense has raised question about the involvement of other individuals, including the Wheeler man who helped police locate Bach's body.


Conflicting evidence was presented about the whereabouts of McCowan's cellphone during the time period in question and how long Bach's body had been lying outside based on the maturation of fly eggs. There was testimony McCowan repeatedly sent text messages to a friend from 1:36 a.m. to 4:07 a.m. on the day in question saying he was coming over and yet never showed up.


There was no DNA or other bodily evidence presented directly linking McCowan to the crime. While the gun used in the crime was never found, McCowan's father testified that one that could have been used was discovered missing from his house. An FBI witness said several types and makes of guns could have been used.


Both sides also presented testimony about McCowan's decision to follow through on a planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington on the day Bach went missing, and his decision not to return to help search for her body.















Dustin McCowan opts against telling his side of the story

February 21, 2013 3:30 pm
Bob Kasarda NWI Times






VALPARAISO - The evidence portion of the Dustin McCowan murder trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon with the accused opting against taking the witness stand to tell his side of the story.

The defense rested after presenting 11 witnesses over the past two days, as compared to 43 witnesses presented by prosecutors over the 2 1/2 weeks prior.

Closing arguments and deliberations will begin Tuesday, according to Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

A defense witness told jurors Thursday morning that calls placed from McCowan's cellphone on the night he is accused of killing his former girlfriend Amanda Bach were placed from his home.



The testimony from private investigator and former state police Officer Ryan Harmon conflicted with evidence presented earlier this week by prosecutors that McCowan's cellphone was shown during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, to be at several locations around and between where 19-year-old Bach's body and car were found. They were discovered not far from McCowan's then-Union Township home.


Harmon said he came to his conclusion by locating the cellphone towers in the area in question, mapping how far out their signals carry and then looking to see where they overlapped.

Prosecutors did not use this overlapping technique, which is the best approach considering the lack of GPS technology available, he said.

"These plots are not GPS," he said of the maps provided by prosecutors that show individual locations of cellphone activity rather than sweeping signals areas from the towers.

Harmon acknowledged in response to a question from the jury that the plots presented by prosecutors fell within the tower signal area.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Frost did not question Harmon's findings, but rather questioned him about his three recent convictions for providing false information to police during an investigation.

Harmon said the convictions resulted from political attacks stemming from his investigations into public corruption. He said he maintains his innocence and is appealing.

Frost also asked Harmon whether it was true he was pressured to retire as a state police officer and left in disgrace. Harmon said no to the latter question and said he simply retired.

Also testifying Thursday on behalf of the defense was Les Blythe, co-owner of Blythe's Sport Shop in Valparaiso and Griffith, who said that more than half of the guns sold at his two stores each year fit the diameter description of the weapon used in Bach's slaying.

Each store also sells 20,000 rounds of that type of ammunition each year, he said.

The only question posed by Frost was whether Blythe knew how many Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolvers were reported missing from McCowan's house. Blythe did not know.

Porter County Deputy Coroner David Souders testified Thursday he saw some blood under Bach's body from the area where it was recovered along County Road 625 West at the Canadian National Railroad tracks.

But he could not say if that is the area where she had been shot.











Inmate tells jurors McCowan admitted to shooting a girl

February 20, 2013 5:30 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - One of the first witnesses called on behalf of Dustin McCowan told jurors Wednesday that McCowan had sent her a text on the night his former girlfriend Amanda Bach is believed to have been killed saying he was not home.

Witness Shelby Reilly said he then sent a text a little more than an hour later at 12:34 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, to ask if she would like to come over to the Union Township home he was living in at the time. Reilly described herself as a friend of McCowan and someone who once loved him and had a physical relationship with him.

Reilly said she did not find McCowan's change in status that night strange, but did think it odd when he sent her another text later that morning notifying her of Bach's disappearance. She said she never formally met Bach and was a little jealous of her relationship with McCowan.

She denied telling detectives she was glad Bach was dead, but said of her death: "It affected me on Dustin’s part. On her part, no."



The testimony came a few hours after prosecutors wrapped up their case against 20-year-old McCowan, who is accused of shooting Bach. Her body was found Sept. 17, 2011, fewer than 300 yards from his former Union Township home.


The final witness for prosecutors was Daniel Grunhard, who testified that while serving time at the jail, McCowan told him and at least one other inmate he had shot a female.

Grunhard, who is serving a six-year prison term after failing the county's drug court program on charges including aiding in a burglary and drug possession, said McCowan told him in October that he shot a girl "because she crossed me."

He said McCowan told him on another occasion he expected the case to be dismissed because authorities will never find the pistol he used.

"It was buried so far nobody would find it," Grunhard said he was told.

Grunhard said he also overheard McCowan telling another jail inmate that authorities never will be able to prove "he shot the bitch." McCowan, who sat just a few feet away, shook his head no.

Attorney John Cantrell, who was called in to handle the cross-examination because Grunhard had once been represented by McCowan's attorneys, attacked Grunhard's credibility.

Grunhard denied he was testifying in hopes of convincing prosecutors to somehow help with his own criminal case and prison term.

When asked why he was testifying, Grunhard said, "Because I am a man who is trying his best to be a better person."

Upon the completion of the 43 witnesses that have been presented by prosecutors over the past two and a half weeks, defense attorney Nicholas Barnes made a failed request to the judge for a mistrial or to dismiss the case for a lack of sufficient evidence.

Also testifying for the defense Wednesday was Robert Swanson, who said McCowan appeared to be unusually subdued and worried about Bach's welfare while taking part in a planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington on the day she disappeared.

The defense also continued with its criticism of the police investigation into the case.








Cops: Cellphone shows McCowan did not stay home on morning of killing

February 19, 2013 5:45 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - Dustin McCowan claims he was home during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011 -- when it is believed his former girlfriend Amanda Bach was killed.

But activity from his cellphone tells a different story, a Porter County Sheriff's Department detective testified Tuesday morning.

Cell activity recorded from towers in the Wheeler area place McCowan's phone at several locations around and between where Bach's body and car were found, according to Detective Gene Hopkins.

The sites identified by Verizon Wireless are not considered exact, but rather "best estimated locations," he said. It shows patterns and movement of cellphone use.



The defense in the McCowan murder trial made a failed attempt Tuesday to keep the cellphone information away from the jurors, attacking its reliability and comparing Hopkins' expertise to an "elementary student attempting to do calculus."


In response to questioning from defense attorney Nicholas Barnes, Hopkins said he had been told the technology provided by Verizon is "spot on" in some cases and as much as a mile or more off in others.

"Are they accurate Detective Hopkins?" Barnes asked.

"They can be, yes," Hopkins replied.

One map presented by the defense showed a couple usage points 1 1/2 miles away from McCowan's then-Union Township home at a time when he was believed to have been at the house. Hopkins said the accuracy of the locations is based in part on the strength of the cell signal.

He said it could be affected by the tall corn growing in the area during the night in question.

Also testifying at the start of the third week of the trial was Charles Wade III, who said McCowan had told him while they were locked up together he was concerned about police discovering blood and gun powder evidence in connection with Bach's death.

McCowan said he accidentally struck Bach in the nose on the night in question while reaching for her cellphone and some of her blood may have dripped on the carpet of his home, Wade said. McCowan also reportedly told Wade he was getting a sweatshirt for the blood and the sweatshirt may have gun power residue on it from him shooting earlier while wearing it.

Wade said McCowan told him when he realized he still had Bach's cellphone after she left, he discarded it in an abandoned house near where he lived. McCowan said his father later found Bach's phone, Wade said.

Barnes accused Wade of lying in hopes of easing his upcoming sentence on charges of carjacking and criminal confinement.










Defense expert says Bach's body dumped a day later than prosecutors claim

February 15, 2013 -  7:48 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A forensic insect specialist countered one of his former instructors Friday when he testified on behalf of the defense that Amanda Bach's body was most likely dumped Sept. 17, 2011, a day later than prosecutors are alleging.

Neal Haskell, an entomologist from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, said he based his conclusion on photographs and video of the scene, the autopsy report and weather data from the period in question.

A more certain conclusion could have been drawn had police collected some of the fly eggs found on Bach's body, he said.

"That's a major omission of evidence," Haskell said.



Haskell said he found the omission great enough that he waived his usual fee as a consultant to testify on behalf of the defense for 20-year-old Dustin McCowan, who is accused of shooting Bach to death Sept. 16, 2011, and dumping her body fewer than 300 yards from his family's then-Union Township home.


Ralph Williams, an entomologist from Purdue University and one-time instructor of Haskell, testified Wednesday the fly egg evidence indicates Bach's body was likely dumped Sept. 16, 2011, where it was found a day later along railroad tracks.

Both of the men based their findings on research of how long it takes fly eggs to mature. Temperature and daylight were key elements in their arguments.

"We should have started seeing maggots at that time, but we didn't," Haskell said referring to the Sept. 19, 2011, autopsy.

Haskell refuted the assumption of Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost that Bach's body being placed for a period in a morgue cooler meant the eggs remained cool once the body was removed and thus slowed their maturation.

Haskell did say it was possible Bach was dumped on Sept. 16, 2011, but most likely it occurred after dark on that day or into the next day.

Jurors were shown graphic photographs this week showing large amounts of fly eggs in Bach's matted hair and were told eggs also were found in her nose.

Haskell was allowed to testify during the prosecution's portion of the case because he will be unavailable next week when the defense is expected to mount its case.

Also testifying Friday was Jessica Guy, who said McCowan showed no reaction when he received word by phone of Bach's death while at a gathering at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Only later did she see him with his head in his hands.
Eric Rivera, a friend of Bach, testified that McCowan somehow got his cellphone number to notify him Bach was missing.

He said the only prior contact he had with McCowan was over Bach's cellphone, which is missing.

In response to questions from the defense, Rivera said McCowan could have got his number from someone else or from Facebook.

The trial will not continue until Tuesday morning as a result of county government being closed Monday for Presidents Day.










McCowan gun discovered missing day Bach's body recovered
February 14, 2013 5:40 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - The father of Dustin McCowan told jurors Thursday morning he discovered a .38-caliber, five-shot revolver missing from his then-Union Township home on the day his son's former girlfriend was found shot to death fewer than 300 yards from the house.

Joseph Elliott McCowan said he had the Smith & Wesson gun since 2005 or 2006 and had last seen the loaded weapon under a couch on Sept. 12, 2011, days before 19-year-old Amanda Bach was shot to death. Dustin McCowan is on trial, accused of murdering Bach.

An FBI firearm examiner testified Tuesday the bullet removed from Bach's body is of the "same design" as cartridges turned over by Joseph McCowan for the missing gun. But it also was stated the bullet could have been fired from a few different types and makes of guns in the .38-caliber family.

In response to questioning from the defense, Joseph McCowan said police would not have known about the missing gun had he not offered the information. He also said that while his son had access to the gun and knew how to shoot, 13 others also had access to the missing weapon.

Earlier in the morning, Dustin McCowan's uncle Russell McCowan testified Dustin canceled a visit with him on the night he is accused of killing Bach.

Russell McCowan said Dustin McCowan confirmed the visit of Sept. 16, 2011, only to respond a few minutes later that his stomach hurt and he was going to bed.

The testimony comes just days after Dustin McCowan’s friend Jordan Walbright told jurors Dustin McCowan sent her repeated text messages between 1:36 and 4:07 a.m. the same day, saying he was on his way to her house. But he never showed up.

Dustin McCowan’s mother, Jamie Tome, told jurors Thursday morning she was concerned when she learned Bach’s body had been found near the Union Township home where her son had been living at the time with his father.

Tome testified she suggested McCowan return from his planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington to help search for Bach. According to Tome, McCowan responded that he would have returned had he been the one who had driven to Bloomington.

Capt. Jeff Biggs, commander of the Porter County sheriff's Detective Bureau, has led the McCowan investigation. He testified late Thursday that more than 150 people were interviewed and yet evidence pointed to no one but McCowan.

The defense meticulously picked away at the investigation, arguing significant information had been ignored by police and much of the investigation was carried out after McCowan already was charged.

Biggs said a five-hour search of the McCowan home revealed nothing linking McCowan to the murder.









Expert said Bach's body likely dumped day before it was discovered
February 13, 2013 3:00 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A forensic insect specialist testified Wednesday morning that homicide victim Amanda Bach's body likely had been dumped the day before it was discovered Sept. 17, 2011, along railroad tracks in rural Union Township.

The conclusion is based on the early stage of the large masses of unhatched fly eggs found in her matted hair and inside her nose, said Ralph Edward Williams, an entomologist from Purdue University.

Williams rejected attempts by the defense to discredit the findings because the fly eggs were not collected from Bach's body during the autopsy.

He said all the eggs would have shown is the exact species of the flies that laid the eggs. The age of the eggs can be determined by the photographs, along with a timeline of the body's discovery and the weather conditions at the time.



Williams said the eggs were probably laid on Bach's body between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, after the temperatures and daylight were proper for that action to take place.


Prosecutors are arguing that 19-year-old Bach, of Portage, was killed earlier on Sept. 16, 2011, by her former boyfriend Dustin McCowan. Her body was found fewer than 300 yards from the home McCowan and his family were living in at the time.

Also testifying Wednesday was forensic pathologist John Cavanaugh, who concluded after conducting an autopsy on Bach that she likely died somewhere between Sept. 15 and 17, 2011.

He also said Bach was shot in the front of the neck at a distance of less than a foot to 2 feet away, had her neck bent back at the time, likely could not have spoken after suffering the wound and died within five to 15 minutes.

A neighbor of McCowan testified last week she heard an unidentified man on the night in question say, "Amanda, get up." The comment was followed by an unidentified female's voice saying, "I can't believe this is happening."

While going through graphic photographs of the autopsy, Cavanaugh told jurors that injuries indicate Bach was dragged feet first with her buttocks lifted off the ground for a significant distance. This could explain why her bra and shirts were found bunched up around her wrists that were over her head.

He also found injuries on Bach's scalp that indicate her hair was pulled.

Cavanaugh showed jurors that gunpowder injuries indicate Bach had her right hand up near her upper chest when she was shot in the neck.

As has been the case throughout the trial, McCowan faced the floor below him and covered his ears as photos of Bach's dead body were projected on a large screen at the front of the courtroom and the injuries were discussed.










Friend tells jurors McCowan acted odd after Bach disappeared
February 12, 2013 - 6:30 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A woman with Dustin McCowan on the morning of Sept. 16, 2011, told jurors Tuesday she thought it odd one of McCowan's first comments was he and former girlfriend Amanda Bach had not fought the night before considering the turbulent nature of their relationship.

Allie Bolde, a senior at Wheeler High School, also found it strange McCowan said Bach had left his house at 1:30 a.m. when she had a 1 a.m. curfew.

"She would never go home at 1:30," Bolde said.

Bolde said McCowan remained calmer than her as they spread news of 19-year-old Bach's disappearance that morning. He walked outside at one point to talk on the phone and after disappearing out of sight, sent her a text that his father and Crown Point police officer, Joseph Elliott McCowan, had picked him up for a short drive. The two then returned to their then-Union Township house five minutes later without comment.

McCowan, 20, said during the morning that if the worst had happened, he hoped they would find Bach so he could have closure, Bolde said. McCowan also reportedly told her the situation was going to ruin his planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington later that day.

Bolde said she also found it odd McCowan was talking about laundry in anticipation of his IU trip and was seen pulling clothes out of the dryer.

"I've never seen him do laundry," she said.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Michelle Morris, a DNA biologist with the FBI, testified that a recovered T-shirt containing Bach's blood had a faint-colored stain that could have resulted from being washed.

Bolde also testified that within the month leading up to Bach's death, McCowan was very upset about the potential Bach was pregnant, though she was not. He also reportedly told her during this period he could kill anyone except his family.

McCowan's friends Erik Schaffer and Tyler Crussen testified Tuesday they had seen McCowan showing off a handgun at his home.

Schaffer said McCowan once talked about shooting uninvited guests to one of many drinking parties he hosted at his home.

Crussen testified he saw McCowan dumping trash from those parties in the area along the nearby railroad tracks where Bach's body was discovered.

In other testimony Tuesday, FBI firearm and tool mark examiner Brett Mills said the bullet removed from Bach's body is of the "same design" as cartridges turned over to police by McCowan's father.



Mills also said a puncture mark in the sidewall of a flattened tire from Bach's car appeared to have been created by a stabbing from a single-edge knife.

In response to questioning from the defense, Mills said it cannot be determined if the bullet recovered from Bach is from the same group of cartridges provided by Joseph Elliott McCowan.

Mills also said the bullet could have been fired from a few different types and makes of guns in the .38-caliber family. Joseph Elliott McCowan has told investigators a .38-caliber revolver is missing from his home.

Prosecutors do not have the gun used in Bach's killing.

Morris testified McCowan's DNA was not found on any other items collected as part of the homicide investigation except his cellphone and a long-sleeve orange T-shirt collected from him at the jail.


Police: McCowan shirt like one found with homicide victim's DNA
February 11, 2013 3:45 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - The orange long-sleeve T-shirt containing the DNA of murder victim Amanda Bach is like one found among the jail belongings of the person charged with the killing – Dustin McCowan.

The link was made Monday afternoon by Porter County Sheriff's Department Lt. William Young, the lead evidence technician, as the second week of the McCowan murder trial began.

McCowan, 20, is charged with the September 16, 2011 slaying of Bach, a former girlfriend, whose body was found less than 300 yards from his then-Union Township home.

In response to questioning from the defense, Young said no DNA or similar evidence was found that links McCowan to Bach's death and no DNA evidence was taken from anyone else but McCowan and Bach as part of the investigation.

Young also said the bullet removed from Bach's body could have come from at least 10 different types of guns.

He also explained that McCowan's father's Crown Point police car was investigated because McCowan had reportedly taken a drive with his father on the morning Bach is believed to have been killed.

During a break in Monday afternoon's proceedings, a male juror was dismissed after admitting he had violated a court order by starting to discuss the trial with his wife. He said he also began sharing the story with other jurors, but they stopped him.

Jurors were shown graphic photos Monday of Bach’s body during the autopsy and where it was discovered among high weeds along railroad tracks in Union Township.

The photos from the scene showed Bach lying on her back with her arms over her head and five shirts and bra pulled up around her wrists.

Jurors showed no obvious reaction, but McCowan looked down at the floor in front of him, and covered his ears as the condition of the body was described by Young.

Young said fly eggs were found on the body, but that none were collected. He resisted claims by the defense that the eggs could have helped determine how long the body was at that location before it was discovered.









Cop: T-shirt with Bach's blood found near McCowan's home
February 08, 2013 5:30 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - Porter County Sheriff's Department Patrolman Darrell Hobgood held up a bright orange long-sleeved T-shirt for the jury to see Friday afternoon.

The shirt, which the defense revealed contained the blood of 19-year-old homicide victim Amanda Bach, of Portage, was found near the Union Township home of Dustin McCowan, who is accused of murdering the young woman, Hobgood said.

The shirt was found by police Sept. 19, 2011, three days after Bach is believed to have been shot to death, Hobgood said.

Defense attorney John Vouga pointed out the shirt was not found during searches of the wider area Sept. 16 and 17, 2011.

Vouga also said the shirt contained no DNA of McCowan, though Hobgood said he had no knowledge of the handling of the shirt after he picked it off the ground and sealed it in an evidence bag. Vouga said the shirt had been removed at least twice from the secured bag for testing.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said at the start of the trial Tuesday that McCowan, 20, is a fan of orange shirts, which is one of the school colors of the nearby Wheeler High School.

Also testifying Friday was Porter County Sheriff's Department Patrolman Roger Bowles, who described finding a puncture on the side wall of a tire from Bach's car, which was found Sept. 16, 2011, abandoned outside Dean's General Store on Ind. 130 in Wheeler.

The puncture was made in an opposite direction of the tire's rotation, unlike if something had been run over, he said.

The tire also had a screw embedded into its tread, Bowles said.

There was no evidence it had been screwed in by someone.

The defense also took the opportunity Friday to question Bowles about other aspects of the investigation with which he took part.

Bowles said two drops of blood were found on the stairs leading to the front door of the McCowan home at the time and that it appears from injuries that Bach was dragged by her hair.

In response to juror questions, Bowles said a typical vehicle could not have driven down the railroad tracks to the spot where Bach's body was found. He also said a murder scene can be cleaned up enough to make it extremely difficult to later investigate and that there is 2 to 2 1/2 miles between where Bach's body and car were found.

The trial is expected to resume at 1 p.m. Monday.










Defense Team Tries To Pin Bach Murder On Search Party Member
February 8, 2013 1:27 PM
CBS News - Chicago, IL

VALPARAISO, Ind. (STMW) – The defense in the Dustin McCowan murder trial offered up an alternate suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Amanda Bach — one of the prosecution’s witnesses and the man who found her body.

However, the aggressive pursuit during Wednesday afternoon’s questioning earned defense attorney Nick Barnes multiple admonishments from Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa.

And Valparaiso Police Department Detective David Castellanos later disagreed on the stand with the defense’s contention that Nicholas Prochno, 30, of Wheeler, led police away from investigating abandoned houses and directly to the body.

Prochno suggested that police officers look around the railroad tracks where his fiancée had seen young people congregate.

Prochno said that on Sept. 17, he approached Valparaiso police officers who were searching in Wheeler and mentioned that his fiancée and he had talked about the area and thought police should know.

"I thought it was valuable. They reacted like it was," Prochno said.

While looking with police, Prochno followed a path of trampled plants into bushes and found Bach.

Barnes focused on Prochno finding the body within 5 minutes of beginning the search when hundreds of others were searching for 34 hours.

Confirming that Prochno felt panicked, Barnes said, "I can see why," leading to his first judicial rebuke.

Alexa said, "That is totally inappropriate, and refrain from putting your opinion into anything."

Barnes also brought up Prochno’s police interview, where he said he always wanted to be a police officer and told police County Road 625W had no spot to abduct someone due to lack of stop signs or traffic lights, except where the trains sometimes stall.

Prochno said he thought Bach went missing before her car reached the corner of County Road 625W and Indiana 130, where it was found with a flat tire, because she didn’t immediately call her boyfriend or father when her car broke down.

Barnes said he found nothing in newspapers or on Facebook that she didn’t call, so he asked how Prochno could have known.

"Isn’t it true that you know because you were there when she was abducted?" Barnes said. "Then on (Sept. 17) when police were getting close to finding your hiding spot, you led them to the body."

An abandoned house was next to Prochno’s home, Barnes said.

Prochno said under cross-examination that police never collected his DNA or fingerprints even to rule him out and never checked his cell phone or calling records.

Castellanos took the stand after Prochno and said police were already done investigating a suspicious house when Prochno approached them. He said they decided to follow the possible lead because they had nothing else to do.

He said others who joined in the search had also talked with police officers. Prochno didn’t lead them to the body, rather Castellano said he told Prochno to follow the path.

Although Prochno seemed scared when he found the body, Castellano said he didn’t find the man’s behavior odd.

Under cross-examination, Castellano said he and other Valparaiso officers didn’t check inside abandoned houses.

Other testimony included McCowan neighbor Linda Phillips, who said she heard 20 minutes of a male voice saying "Amanda, get up" outside her bedroom window and the female once saying "I don’t believe this is happening."

"He wasn’t yelling at her. He was gentle. It was a gentle voice," Phillips said.

However, the female sounded stressed, the witness said.

Neighbor Michele Albright testified she heard three gunshots after midnight, although under cross-examination she couldn’t pinpoint the exact time.

Bach’s mother, Sandra Bach, was the first witness of the day and spoke about having talks with Amanda about her relationship with McCowan, which officially ended around July-August of 2011.

"I used the words ‘he’s a psycho or bi-polar. You don’t need that in your life,’ " Sandra Bach said.

In answer to a juror’s submitted question, Sandra Bach said, "I wasn’t aware of any physical type of abuse, but verbal, yes."

Under cross-examination, she said that they bickered often.









Witness 100 percent sure he saw McCowan near site where Bach's body was found
February 07, 2013 -  6:17 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times



VALPARAISO - A Union Township man told jurors Thursday morning he is 100 percent sure he saw Dustin McCowan walking south along County Road 650 West about 2:25 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, the morning McCowan is accused of murdering former girlfriend Amanda Bach.

"I said, 'What the hell? It's two-something in the morning,'" Michael Steege said.

Steege said he remembered thinking at the time the young man he saw wearing a maroon or green hooded sweatshirt looked like entertainer Justin Timberlake, but he did not identify him as McCowan until a couple of weeks later after seeing McCowan's jail booking photo in the newspaper.

The testimony comes a day after the defense turned the tables in the McCowan murder trial and suggested the crime was carried out by a Wheeler man who helped police find Bach's body fewer than 300 yards from where McCowan and his family were living at the time in Union Township. The young man identified as McCowan was seen walking between where Bach's body and car were found.

In response to questioning from defense attorney John Vouga, Steege said he did not tell anyone about seeing a young man that morning until seeing McCowan's photo in the paper.

Steege said he had told police about seeing a truck and a car that turned out to be Bach's a little further up the road that same morning in the parking area of Dean's General Store on Ind. 130 in Wheeler.

Steege said he was driving north on 650 West on his way to work when he slowed to 5 to 10 mph while passing the young man. He said the young man was wearing the hood of the sweatshirt, but he was able to make eye contact and saw his "dirty blonde curly hair."

He said the young man was not running and showed "no expression whatsoever." Steege said he did not know McCowan or Bach before hearing about the case.

Vouga picked at Steege's description of the young man, challenging the accuracy of his memory and the claim it was McCowan. Steege stood by his story and pointed across the courtroom to McCowan as the man he saw.

Steege said he was never called in to pick McCowan out of a police lineup.

Later in the day, Union Township resident Jordan Walbright, who described herself as McCowan's best friend, testified that McCowan repeatedly sent her text messages between 1:36 and 4:07 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, that he was going to come to her house, two doors away.

Yet McCowan never showed and she did not see him until they left at 2 p.m. for a previously planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington.

Walbright later told a defense attorney it was not uncommon for McCowan to fail to show up as planned. She said she had told him not go to IU because of Bach's disappearance.

Brandon Hutchins, who said he has been like a brother to McCowan, testified that McCowan argued a lot with Bach and threatened her harm when he feared she was pregnant, although she was not.

"He said he'd punch her in the stomach if she was," Hutchins said. "It would ruin his life."

When asked by the defense if he was at home rather than at school at Vincennes University at the time of Bach's killing, Hutchins said no. Prosecutors later showed that the Sheriff's Department verified Hutchins was away at school.

In yet further testimony Thursday, Mike Rosta, a Union Township school social worker and middle school dean, said McCowan had come to him for advice Sept. 16, 2011, and he suggested McCowan help with the search for Bach.

Rosta said he learned the following day that McCowan went on the trip to Bloomington instead.

"I said, 'Dustin, you need to get your butt home,'" Rosta said during a phone call with McCowan.

Rosta, who knows McCowan from school and the Natural Helpers program, said his communications with McCowan were not adding up and he asked him, "Is there something you need to tell me?"

According to the defense, McCowan responded, "What are you talking about? What do you mean? No. No."










Defense in McCowan murder trial point finger at someone else
February 06, 2013 - 3:15 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A Wheeler man who led police to the missing body of Amanda Bach vehemently denied repeated suggestions by defense attorneys on Wednesday that he, and not Dustin McCowan, is responsible for her death.

During an intense cross-examination, defense attorney Nicholas Barnes questioned how Nicholas Prochno was able to interrupt the search on Sept. 17, 2011, and within just a few minutes, lead police directly to Bach's body 2 1/2 miles away.

Prochno testified he was following a hunch based on information he had heard from his fiancee that young females had been seen in that area along railroad tracks in the past.

Barnes also questioned Prochno on how he knew several of the details in the case as early as he did. Prochno said he had learned some of the information on Facebook and from newspapers.

"Absolutely not," Prochno repeatedly said to suggestions that he was responsible for the murder. "I've never been in contact with Amanda Bach in my entire life."

The testimony came on the third day of the trial accusing 19-year-old Amanda Bach's former boyfriend, McCowan, of shooting her to death on Sept. 16, 2011. Bach's body was found fewer than 300 yards from where 20-year-old McCowan was living at the time.

Valparaiso police Detective Sgt. David Castellanos, who was with Prochno when he found Bach's body, testified he found nothing strange about Prochno or his involvement in the search.

Castellanos said he was the one who pointed out the matted foliage that Prochno followed to Bach's body.

"I don't think Nicholas Prochno led us anywhere," Castellanos said.

Earlier in the day, Michelle Walbright, who lives two houses away from where McCowan was living at the time in Union Township, said she heard three gun shots at 12:20 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011.

Walbright recalled asking her daughter, "Why would somebody be shooting a gun this time of night?"

Walbright said no one else in her house heard the shots.

Another neighbor in the same area, Linda Phillips, told jurors Wednesday she heard a male voice outside her house between 1 and 1:45 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011, repeatedly saying, "Amanda get up."

Phillips said those pleas were followed by a single comment from a female voice saying, "I can't believe this is happening."

She said she saw no one, could not identify the speakers and heard nothing else, but said the man spoke in a calm and gentle voice.

"She sounded a little upset," Phillips said of the female voice.

Phillips said she shared the information with Portage resident William Bach later that morning when he came to her house looking for his missing daughter, Amanda Bach. She said she asked if his daughter was Amanda before he revealed her name.

"He turned pale," Phillips said.

Phillips also said she noticed all the lights on in the nearby McCowan house and Dustin McCowan's father's Crown Point police car parked outside, when he was supposed to be on duty.

Amanda Bach's mother, Sandra Bach, testified McCowan had been verbally abusive to her daughter during their relationship, though she said they both bickered with each other. She said she encouraged her daughter to leave him entirely behind after they broke up in early August 2011.

"He's psycho or bipolar," Sandra Bach said she told her daughter. "You don't need that kind of person in your life."










Ind. teen victim's dad testifies at murder trial
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
WLS-TV Chicago, IL

video
[IN] Ind teen victim's dad testifies at murder trial- Feb 05, 2013


(VALPARAISO, Ind.) (WLS) -- In Valparaiso, Indiana, the murder trial of Dustin McCowan is under way. He's accused of killing 19-year-old Amanda Bach in September of 2011.

Her father was the first witness called by the prosecution. William Bach was the first witness to take the stand during Tuesday's trial.

"He couldn't look me in the eyes," William Bach said. "I felt suspicious."

That's the way William Bach described a face-to-face conversation he had with McCowan hours after his teenage daughter went missing in the early morning hours of September 16, 2011 from Union Township, Indiana, just outside Valparaiso.

It's taken nearly a year and a half for this case to come to trial.

McCowan stands accused of murdering his on-and-off girlfriend. The case has attracted a lot of attention. McCowan is the son of a Crown Point police officer.

Amanda Bach's body was found the next day alongside train tracks just 300 yards from McCowan's home. She'd been shot once in the neck.

From the start, McCowan said Amanda Bach had been with him prior to going missing, but denied any involvement in her disappearance. During opening statements, prosecutors said they have evidence that proves McCowan shot Amanda Bach with his father's missing gun, then dragged her body to where it was found.

But defense attorneys said there was "gross negligence during the investigation.... Police assumed it was Dustin and never looked back."

Defense attorneys also pointed out that there is no physical evidence, DNA or otherwise, that links McCowan to the murder.

Relatives for both McCowan's and Bach's families left the courthouse without comment.










Prosecutor: McCowan's neighbor heard gunshots on night of murder
February 05, 2013 - 5:40 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - Dustin McCowan covered his face with his hand, looked down and later wiped his eyes with a tissue while prosecutors showed autopsy photos of his former girlfriend and homicide victim 19-year-old Amanda Bach.

The graphic images, which showed a gunshot wound to the front of the Portage woman's neck and a large dragging-type wound covering much of her back, was presented to jurors during opening arguments in the trial accusing McCowan of shooting Bach on Sept. 16, 2011.

Before a packed courtroom of family members and supporters of both Bach and McCowan, prosecutors revealed a few new details, such as a neighbor near McCowan's Union Township home hearing what she believed was a gunshot on the night in question.

Bach's body was found Sept. 17, 2011, fewer than 300 yards from McCowan's house.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost also told jurors an orange long-sleeved T-shirt containing Bach's DNA was found in the area where her body was recovered and 45 yards from McCowan's house. McCowan was a fan of orange shirts, Frost said.

The first witness to testify was Bach's father, William Bach. He said that when his daughter's car was discovered abandoned outside Dean's General Store on Ind. 130 in Wheeler, the driver's seat was pushed all the way back, which was out of place for her 5-foot-2-inch body. Jurors were shown photos of Amanda Bach driving the vehicle with the seat far enough forward that her knees were well under the steering wheel column.

Defense attorney John Vouga countered by calling prosecutors' version of the events a story with lots of details left out.

He also criticized the police as grossly negligent in their investigation and said they did an "obligatory and shoddy" job.

Vouga said McCowan was arrested less than three hours after Bach's body was found. Police charged him 48 hours later "and they never looked back," he said.

"Dustin McCowan is innocent," Vouga said. "His future lies in the integrity of this judicial system."

Evidence will show Bach's body could not have been laying dead as long as prosecutors claim, which will clear McCowan because he was never alone during this shorter period of time, Vouga said.

Cellphone and gun evidence are also not as certain as portrayed by prosecutors, he said.

The trial is to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday before Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.










Jury selection begins for McCowan trial
February 04, 2013 - 6:15 pm
Brian Vernellis
NWI Times

video
[IN] Jury selection begins for McCowan trial - Feb 04, 2013

The Dustin McCowan murder trial began with juror selection at the Porter County Courthouse Monday.










Judge nixes request to move murder trial
February 04, 2013 - 5:00 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times









VALPARAISO - A defense attorney made a last-minute attempt Monday to move the murder trial of Dustin McCowan out of Porter County or at least choose jurors from elsewhere.

John Vouga argued any local pool of potential jurors would be prejudiced against his client by a story that appeared in Sunday's edition of The Times.

The article refers to cellphone evidence that may not be admissible during the trial and gives the appearance the judge may already believe McCowan is guilty, Vouga said.

The story also contains a prejudicial headline and a damaging photo of McCowan in his jail garb, Vouga noted.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa denied both requests, saying defendants are guaranteed a fair and impartial jury, not jurors who have not heard of the case.

Alexa denied the same request by the defense in August.

Alexa also said the timeline attached to the story appeared accurate and any questions about the impact of the story can be asked during the jury selection process that began Monday afternoon.

Attorneys will pick 12 jurors and four alternates because of the potential for the trial to last up to four weeks.

McCowan, 20, is charged with murdering one-time girlfriend Amanda Bach, 19, of Portage, by shooting her in the neck on Sept. 16, 2011.

Bach's body was found the following day less than 300 yards from McCowan's home in Union Township.

McCowan, who has maintained his innocence, was in court for the jury selection Monday and had traded his orange jail garb for a gray dress suit. Security was tight with several uniformed sheriff's officers scattered around the inside and outside of the fifth-floor courtroom.

About 13 of the 60 to 70 potential jurors called in Monday said they had heard nothing about the murder case. Alexa told those who have heard about the case that if they are chosen for the jury, they must set aside what they think they know and base their considerations solely on what they hear from the witness stand.

During questioning from prosecutors and the defense, most of the first batch of potential jurors said they could fulfill that obligation.

Among the few who could not was a man who said his son has attended school with Bach's sibling.

"I wish I could," he said. "I don't know I can."

Another potential juror who predicted problems was a woman, who said when asked by the defense that she already believes McCowan is guilty.










Dustin McCowan murder trial to begin
Monday February 03, 2013 - 12:00 am
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times



VALPARAISO - Nearly a year and a half after 19-year-old Portage resident Amanda Bach was found fatally shot along railroad property in rural Union Township, jury selection is set to begin Monday afternoon to determine whether her one-time boyfriend, Dustin McCowan, is responsible for her death.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa has set aside a month for the trial, which is an unusually large amount of time for this type of case.

Prosecutors said they have a witness list of 60 people, in addition to the 15 listed by the defense.

A high level of security also is planned for the proceedings and the court administrator's office is summoning a larger-than-normal number of potential jurors. About 70 potential jurors reportedly are being called in for the start of the selection process at 1 p.m. Monday and another 80 will be available the following day if 12 jurors and alternates are not chosen by that time.

Prosecutors do not have the gun used in the killing, but police said during a bond hearing in November 2011 that after collecting 90 pieces of evidence and interviewing up to 150 people, nothing points to anyone but McCowan as being responsible.

McCowan has maintained his innocence.

The case has attracted attention from the public and media.

Hundreds of volunteers showed up to help search for Bach on Sept. 17, 2011, the day her body was found about 300 yards from McCowan's home with a fatal bullet wound to the front of her neck.

More than 100 supporters turned out again about a week later to take part in a candlelight parade down Willowcreek Road in Portage in honor of Bach.

Among the key pieces of evidence prosecutors plan to introduce during the trial is testimony from a McCowan neighbor, who told investigators she was awakened on the night Bach went missing by the sound of a man's voice outside her home saying, among other things, "Amanda get up."

She also heard what she thought was a female voice say, "I can't believe this is happening," but did not see anyone.

Police also revealed during the 2011 bond hearing that while McCowan spent nearly three hours text messaging a neighbor on the night of the slaying claiming he was wrapping up chores at his home before coming over to visit, he never showed up at the neighbor's home. A trace on his cellphone placed it not only at his house, but also at the nearby sites where Bach's body and vehicle were found.

A motorist driving in the area during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, told police he saw a "Justin Timberlake-looking kid" walking along the road, whom he later identified as McCowan after McCowan's arrest photo appeared in newspapers, police said.

McCowan's father, Joseph Elliott McCowan, a Crown Point police officer, told police a .38-caliber revolver was missing from his home, according to testimony at a November 2011 bond hearing for Dustin McCowan. Ammunition for that weapon appears to match the bullet taken from Bach's body, according to court reports.

A former inmate at the Porter County Jail, who is serving a six-year prison term after failing out of the county's drug court program, also is expected to testify that McCowan told him while they were in lock-up that he shot someone named Amanda and buried the gun so well it never will be found.

Daniel Grunhard has told police McCowan said he shot Amanda with a gun he kept under the seat of his car because she crossed him.

McCowan, who is believed to be the last person to have seen Bach alive, left on a planned trip to Bloomington after the girl went missing and her vehicle was found abandoned outside Dean's General Store on Ind. 130 in Wheeler.


Timeline
Sept. 15, 2011 - Amanda Bach leaves her Portage home at 10 p.m. saying she is going bowling with a cousin. Dustin McCowan told police Bach was at his Union Township house from 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. and that she failed to send him a text message when she got home as he requested.

Sept. 16, 2011 - Bach's vehicle is discovered during the early morning at Dean's General Store on Ind. 130 in Wheeler. The vehicle's hazard lights were flashing, its driver's side door was open, the left front tire was flat, and a purse and its contents were found inside.

Sept. 16, 2011 - McCowan leaves for Bloomington, Ind., where he is later taken into custody.

Sept. 17, 2011 - Bach's body was found fewer than 300 yards from McCowan's house.

Sept. 19, 2011 - Autopsy reveals Bach died of a single gunshot wound to the front of her neck.

Sept. 23, 2011 - Family, friends and hundreds of community members filled the pews of Nativity of Our Savior Catholic Church for Bach's funeral Mass.

Sept. 27, 2011 - More than 100 supporters take part in a candlelight parade down Willowcreek Road in Portage in honor of Bach.

Nov. 16, 2011 - Judge Bill Alexa rules there is enough evidence to continue holding McCowan without bond on a charge of murder.

Dec. 21, 2011 - A Jan. 30, 2012, trial for McCowan is postponed until Aug. 13, 2012, to allow the defense more time to prepare.

Feb. 15, 2012 - Family and friends of McCowan offer a $10,000 reward for the identity of the real killer of Bach, who they said could be a multistate serial killer.

July 13, 2012 - Alexa reluctantly agrees to again to delay McCowan's trial to allow his new defense attorneys more time to prepare.

Aug. 16, 2012 - After denying a motion for a change of venue, Alexa sets the case for trial Feb. 4.

Jan. 9, 2013 - Alexa denies a request by the defense to bar autopsy photos during McCowan murder trial.

Jan. 15, 2013 - Alexa clears way for prosecutors to have a neighbor of McCowan testify she heard a man say outside her home on the night in question, "Amanda get up."

Jan. 23, 2013 - Prosecutors reveal a former jail inmate claims McCowan told him while they were in lock-up that he shot someone named Amanda and buried the gun so well it never will be found.

Feb. 4, 2013 - Jury selection expected to begin at 1 p.m. in McCowan's murder trial, which could last a month.










Former jail inmate says Dustin McCowan admitted to shooting Amanda
January 23, 2013 - 8:00 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times


VALPARAISO - A former inmate at the Porter County Jail claims Dustin McCowan told him while they were locked up that he shot someone named Amanda and buried the gun so well it never will be found.

Daniel Grunhard said McCowan, who's accused of killing Amanda Bach, told him he shot Amanda with a gun he kept under the seat of his car because she crossed him.

Grunhard, 35, who is now serving a six-year sentence at the Westville Correctional Facility after failing out of the county's drug court program last fall, said McCowan did not say how Bach had crossed him.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa confirmed Wednesday afternoon that prosecutors may use Grunhard's claims as part of their case against 20-year-old McCowan, who will stand trial Feb. 4 on a charge of murdering 19-year-old Bach, of Portage.

Bach, who was McCowan's former girlfriend, was found dead Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan's Union Township home.

The claims by Grunhard triggered a hearing Wednesday afternoon because he is a client of John Vouga's Portage law firm, which also is representing McCowan.

Vouga told Alexa on Wednesday if Grunhard is allowed to testify, he and other attorneys at his firm will be put in a professional and ethical conflict that could result in sanctions, including suspensions.

The firm has confidential information about Grunhard from his own criminal case that could be used to his detriment if the Valparaiso resident testifies against McCowan, Vouga said. The firm would be in conflict with their representation of Grunhard if they reveal the information at trial, but would be at odds with their responsibility to McCowan if those details are not used in his defense, Vouga said.

Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said Grunhard's testimony is an essential part of the case against McCowan.

Alexa said Grunhard will be allowed to testify, but an independent defense attorney will be brought in to handle the cross-examination after he has testified on behalf of prosecutors. The attorney will be filled in on the details of this case but will know none of the confidential information from Grunhard's criminal case.

Alexa left the choice of the attorney up to Vouga, but suggested turning the decision over to the county public defender's office.

At Vouga's request, Alexa agreed to contact the state Supreme Court to shed light on the steps being taken to address Vouga's ethical concerns. Vouga said he was told the state Supreme Court still can take disciplinary action if a lower court determines there is no conflict of interest.

"Obviously we're concerned about that," Vouga said.

Polarek told the court in a memorandum that Grunhard was made no promises in return for his testimony.









Judge OKs testimony in McCowan murder trial
January 15, 2013 - 4:45 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A judge tossed out a claim it would be hearsay for prosecutors in the upcoming Dustin McCowan murder trial to introduce comments overheard by a neighbor of the accused.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa said the comments can be presented to the jury because they are being used to show they were spoken and not in an attempt to prove the matter asserted.

This negates a claim by the defense the statements are irrelevant unless it is first proven they were made by McCowan, 20, who is accused of shooting and killing his former girlfriend, Amanda Bach, 19, according to Alexa.

Bach's body was found Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan's Union Township home.

The statements the defense were attempting to keep out of the trial were reportedly heard by Linda Phillips, who told police she was awakened by them outside her home between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011.

She told police she heard a male voice say, "Amanda get up."

Other statements include, "Amanda, you have to get up. Amanda, honey, you've got to get up," according to court records.

Phillips also told investigators she heard what she thought was a female voice say, "I can't believe this is happening."

Phillips told police she looked out her window, but saw no one.

During a hearing last week on a series of motions in the case, Alexa denied an attempt by the defense to bar autopsy photos from the Feb. 4 trial.

The defense team was granted a few of its requests, including those prohibiting prosecutors from bringing up a previous arrest for which McCowan was not convicted or a long list of alleged character traits including accusations that McCowan is controlling, angry, sexually promiscuous, a marijuana user and was suicidal at one time.

Jurors also will not hear allegations that McCowan said he disliked or hated Bach.










Judge: Autopsy photos can be shown during McCowan murder trial
January 09, 2013 - 6:00 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A judge denied a request by the defense Wednesday to bar autopsy photos during next month's Dustin McCowan murder trial.

"The state is entitled to prove its case," said Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

Defense attorney John Vouga said he would stipulate to the identity of the victim, 19-year-old Amanda Bach, and to the cause of her death.

Showing the photographs to the jury would thus have a greater prejudicial impact on McCowan than their value in the case, he said.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said he intends to use the photographs but will not use surgically manipulated images of Bach.

Alexa reminded McCowan's attorneys they can object to the use of the photos at trial, which begins Feb. 4.

McCowan, 20, of Union Township, is accused of killing Portage resident Bach, who was found shot to death Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan’s house. Bach was McCowan's former girlfriend.

The defense team was granted a few of its requests Wednesday, including those prohibiting prosecutors from bringing up a previous arrest for which McCowan was not convicted at the trial or a long list of alleged character traits including accusations that McCowan is controlling, angry, sexually promiscuous, a marijuana user and was suicidal at one time.

Jurors also will not hear allegations that McCowan said he disliked or hated Bach.

Defense attorney Nicholas Barnes also asked Alexa to prohibit prosecutors from introducing claims by one of McCowan's neighbors, who said she heard statements outside her home on the night in question including a male voice saying, "Amanda get up," and a female voice saying," I just can't believe this is happening."

The neighbor said she did not see anyone.

Barnes called the statements hearsay, while prosecutors said they are relevant because of their timing and location.

Alexa took the defense's request concerning the neighbor's statements under consideration.









Judge, attorneys prepare for Union Twp. man's murder trial
January 04, 2013 - 9:00 pm
Heather Augustyn
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A Porter County judge on Friday granted two pretrial motions in the case against a Union Township man accused of killing his former girlfriend.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa ordered the Porter County Jail to turn over records to be used at Dustin McCowan's murder trial. Alexa also ordered that a defense witness be transferred from the state prison in Westville to Porter County for trial.

McCowan, 20, is accused in the slaying of his former girlfriend, Amanda Bach, 19, who was found shot to death Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan’s house. Alexa set jury selection for McCowan's trial for Feb. 4 and 5.

Alexa plans to address remaining pretrial motions Wednesday. Those motions deal with witnesses, character evidence, criminal history, exclusion of references, exclusion of photographs and exclusion of improper arguments or statements.

There were restrictions placed on who could be in the courtroom Friday due to a full list of court calls, but Alexa said there would be no such restrictions at the hearing Wednesday.

On Feb. 4, 65 potential jurors will be called into the courtroom, he said. Fourteen will sit in the jury box, and the rest in benches, he said. No one except the media and jurors will be allowed in the room.

Fifty potential jurors will be called Feb. 5, he said.

The objective will be to "choose a fair and impartial jury for trial," Alexa said. The state and defense will each be allowed three hours to select a jury, split over the two days due to time.

Alexa also designated one hour for Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost’s opening statements and one hour for opening statements by McCowan’s attorney, John Vouga.










Judge tosses dog evidence in Union Twp. murder trial
December 13, 2012 - 7:19 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A judge has ruled bloodhound evidence will not be introduced during the February murder trial involving Union Township resident Dustin McCowan.

McCowan, 20, is accused in the slaying of his former girlfriend, Amanda Bach. Bach, 19, was found shot to death Sept. 17, 2011 about 300 yards from McCowan's house.

Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa said the state Supreme Court ruled in 1917 that bloodhound evidence is inadmissible.

The court analyzed and quoted numerous cases from other states, the majority of which "recognize the fact that such evidence is of a very dangerous character, and that, when received, it is to be with caution, " according to Alexa's ruling.

"While the court agreed that bloodhound dogs are 'carefully trained,' the court ... stated that all dogs 'are not equally unerring, and each may fail at times in being truthful,'" Alexa said.

Alexa also cited a 1985 state Supreme Court case upholding those earlier findings.

Portage-based defense attorney John Vouga said Thursday he believes the judge ruled correctly considering the state's history on the issue of bloodhound evidence.

Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek said she believes the bloodhound evidence in this case is strong, but was not surprised by the ruling.

"We understood it could go either way," she said.

The dog in this case had tracked trails from where Bach's body was found to both her car and to McCowan's nearby house.

Polarek said she still has a solid case against McCowan, who is being held without bond at the Porter County Jail until his Feb. 4 trial.

During a bond hearing in November 2011, police unveiled several key pieces of evidence in addition to the bloodhound information, including tracing McCowan's cellphone to the sites where Bach's body and her vehicle were found.

There also is a witness, who identified McCowan as the "Justin Timberlake-looking kid" he saw walking in the area that September day.

Other revelations that surfaced included McCowan's father, Crown Point police Officer Joseph Elliott McCowan, telling investigators a .38-caliber revolver was missing from his home.

Along with that, ammunition for a .38-caliber gun appears to match the bullet taken from Bach's body.

A detective said at the time that of the 90 pieces of evidence collected and up to 150 people interviewed, nothing pointed to anyone but McCowan as being responsible.










Change of venue denied; McCowan trial date set
August 16, 2012 - 2:45 pm
Phil Wieland
NWI Times


VALPARAISO - After denying a motion for a change of venue Thursday, Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa set a trial date of Feb. 4 for Dustin McCowan in the murder of Amanda Bach.

Alexa said a fair jury could be found in Porter County despite pretrial publicity of the case but left the door open to a possible change of venue if selecting a jury proves difficult.

John Vouga, lawyer for McCowan along with Nicholas Barnes, said he would file a motion for a sample jury to determine if the change would be warranted. In arguing for the move to another county or of selecting a jury from another county, Vouga said, while only one news story on the case appeared in the last few months, the case is all over social media.

He said a Justice for Amanda page on Facebook has 16,000 "likes," but Alexa questioned whether they all came from Porter County residents. Prosecuting attorney Matt Frost said unless it could be shown all the "likes" were from Porter County, it could be just as difficult seating a jury in other counties.

Vouga also said the fact the motion was not filed within 10 days of the charges as required should not be a factor because he and Barnes were not hired until March. Bach, 19, was shot to death Sept. 17, and the body was found about 300 yards from McCowan's Union Township home. Vouga said he did not know about interest in the case until he did an Internet search after a June 8 story in The Times.

Much of the morning hearing was taken up with the motion to suppress the work of another jury, this one the Sheriff's Department's bloodhound named Jury. On Sept. 21 and 22, Jury and her handler, Sgt. Charles Douthett, were called to the area of Wheeler south of Ind. 130, where Bach's body was found, to follow scent trails of Bach and McCowan.

Barnes said Indiana does not allow dog tracking to be used as evidence linking a person to a scene because it is unreliable. Douthett explained how a bloodhound "lives for its nose" because of the sensitivity of its sense of smell. It can pick up a scent trail up to five months later and even track a person in a vehicle.

After describing how Jury followed the separate trails of Bach and McCowan the first day and McCowan the second day, Douthett said he warned the Sheriff's Department that Jury had been retired for a couple of years and not worked a scene. Douthett had been retired three years at the time but has since rejoined the department part time.

He said Jury showed a strong reaction at the site where Bach's body was found and at a couple of other sites tied to the case that could link them to McCowan.

Alexa said he wanted to do more research on the dog tracking issue because it might be time to revisit whether it should be admitted, as it is in other states. Alexa said a motion to return 29 guns and a PlayStation 3 and controller confiscated from the home of McCowan's father should more appropriately be filed with the Sheriff's Department.









Bach murder trial delayed
July 13, 2012 - 8:30 pm
Jeff Burton
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - A 19-year-old Union Township man accused of killing his former girlfriend last year will not face a jury in August as was expected.

Friday morning, a vocally reluctant Porter Superior Judge Bill Alexa agreed to give Dustin McCowan's legal team more time to prepare its defense.

McCowan is accused of murdering former girlfriend Amanda Bach, 19, who was found shot to death Sept. 17 about 300 yards from McCowan's Union Township home.


In looking over a motion to continue, Alexa questioned whether McCowan's attorneys took to heart his June request for a timely trial.

"You didn't take seriously my last admonition?" Alexa asked.

Attorney John Vouga said the additional time will allow him and co-counsel Nick Barnes to provide an "aggressive" defense for their client and said the added time also will help in properly deposing witnesses, though he questioned a recently released list of 148 prosecution witnesses.

"Obviously in a murder trial, there is a possibility we may have to depose all those witnesses," Vouga said.

In addition to the continuance request, the defense also filed additional motions Friday.

Among them, Barnes said, the defense is seeking to suppress the prosecution's dog-tracking evidence and looking to have firearms confiscated from the McCowan family home returned to the defendant's father.

Defense attorneys have filed a motion to have the Porter County Sheriff's Department produce 19 police report supplements they say they haven't received. They're also filing for a change of venue, which, if successful, could either see the location of the trial moved to a different county, or an outside jury brought in to hear the case.

Vouga said the defense also presented a short list of possible witnesses, consisting of McCowan's father and stepmother, a cellphone technology expert and an entomologist, a scientist who studies insects.

Alexa agreed to hear all the defense's motions Aug. 16, at which time a new trial date is likely to be set.

Vouga told the judge he believes he can have his client's defense ready in November.










Amanda Bach murder suspect's trial pushed back
Sunday, December 25, 2011
WLS-TV Chicago, IL



(WLS) -- The murder trial for a Northwest Indiana man has been pushed back seven months. 



Dustin McCowan is accused of killing 19-year old Amanda Bach of Portage. 

He was scheduled to go on trial January 30th, but now a judge has pushed it back to August. 

Bach disappeared one evening in September. Searchers found her body two days later. 

She died from a bullet wound to the neck. 

McCowan reportedly told police that Bach had been at his house earlier in the evening but that he did not know what happened to her after she left.











Judge: No delay in Aug. 13 McCowan murder trial
June 08, 2012 - 11:49 am
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

VALPARAISO - Porter Superior Judge Bill Alexa called a special hearing Friday to make it clear he would like to see the Dustin McCowan murder trial begin as scheduled on Aug. 13.

But Portage attorney John Vouga, who took over the defense fewer than 60 days ago, said he still is waiting on evidence and faces too much preparation work to be ready by that date.

Alexa asked when he would be ready for trial.

"This year? Next year? The year after?" he asked.

Vouga said the answer hinges on when he receives all the evidence from prosecutors, but believes he can be ready by November.

"I'm not going into a murder trial half-cocked," he said.

Alexa affirmed the Aug. 13 trial date and said he expected an update from attorneys during a hearing July 13.

McCowan, 19, is accused of murdering his former girlfriend Amanda Bach, 19, who was found shot to death Sept. 17 about 300 yards from McCowan's house in Union Township.

The trial already has been postponed once at the request of the former defense attorney, who said he was waiting on lab results from the FBI and prosecutors.

Alexa reminded Vouga on Friday his client is being held without bond at the jail.

"I don't like that one bit," Vouga said.

When Vouga said he is thinking about asking again for bond based on new evidence, Alexa said there will not be a second hearing on that topic.

Several plainclothes police officers were scattered through the courtroom Friday for security purposes during the short hearing.

Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek, who said her office will be ready for the Aug. 13 trial, said she has just a few documents to yet provide to the defense and is waiting on a lab result from the FBI that will not make or break the case.

Alexa explained he called Friday's status hearing in the wake of a recent trial being postponed at nearly the last minute because of the discovery of new evidence. He said he has set aside two weeks for McCowan's case.









Federal judge tosses lawsuit by Porter County Jail inmates
January 26, 2012 - 6:30 pm
Bob Kasarda
NWI Times

HAMMOND - A federal judge has thrown out the complaints of eight Porter County inmates who filed a joint lawsuit alleging their constitutional rights were violated while behind bars.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen said Dustin McCowan, Joseph Ruwaldt, Arthur Gutierrez Jr., Corey Cardenas, Adam Massey, Jason Tabor, Dustin DaVaney and Keelan Wright failed to address deficiencies in their case.

The men and/or county jail were ordered to pay 20 percent of the money the men receive each month of $10 or more until the $350 filing fee is paid in full.

The men alleged the jail violated their constitutional rights when it denied them access to family visitation, phone privileges and time at the jail's law library.

Nine inmates in all had signed on to the original complaint.










Amanda Bach murder suspect's trial pushed back
Sunday, December 25, 2011
ABC News - Chicago IL


(WLS) -- The murder trial for a Northwest Indiana man has been pushed back seven months.

Dustin McCowan is accused of killing 19-year old Amanda Bach of Portage.


He was scheduled to go on trial January 30th, but now a judge has pushed it back to August.


Bach disappeared one evening in September. Searchers found her body two days later.


She died from a bullet wound to the neck.


McCowan reportedly told police that Bach had been at his house earlier in the evening but that he did not know what happened to her after she left.










Judge strikes some complaints against Porter County Jail
December 13, 2011 - 7:15 pm
Marc Chase
NWI Times

HAMMOND - A federal judge has stricken the complaints — at least for now — of four Porter County Jail inmates who had filed a joint lawsuit against the jail, court records show.

Inmates Dustin McCowan, Jason Tabor, Corey Cardenas and Arthur Gutierrez were among nine who filed a federal lawsuit against the Porter County Jail in Hammond federal court.

The suit alleges the jail violated their constitutional rights when it denied them access to family visitation, phone privileges and time at the jail's law library.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen had the complaints of the four inmates stricken Tuesday, ruling they submitted vague complaints that do not demonstrate how their rights had been violated.

The Tuesday ruling followed a separate ruling Monday in which Van Bokkelen separated all defendants' complaints into nine separate lawsuits.

McCowan, Tabor, Cardenas and Gutierrez have until Jan. 16 to amend and refile their complaints, or their cases against the jail will be dismissed, according to Van Bokkelen's ruling.

Five other inmates involved in the original suit — Keelan Wright, Dustin DaVaney, Adam Massey, Joseph Ruwaldt and Charles Wade — still had separate pending cases against the jail Tuesday, court records show.















Also See:

Updates on Amanda Bach Murder Case are on the 
Michigan Officer Involved Domestic Violence Website:

[IN] Amanda Bach Murder Case
http://michiganoidv.blogspot.com/2011/09/in-amanda-bach-murder-case_16.html

Amanda Bach Murder - Dustin McCowan charged with murder – September 16, 2011http://abbiandbaileyfromtheheart.blogspot.com/2011/09/amanda-bach-murder-dustin-mccowan_16.html

Amanda Bach Murder Case - Investigation of Officer Joseph Elliott McCowan [Crown Point Indiana PD] - September 2011 - April 2013

Amanda Bach Murder Case - Dustin McCowan Sentenced - March 28, 2013 http://abbiandbaileyfromtheheart.blogspot.com/2013/03/amanda-bach-murder-case-dustin-mccowan.html