Chesterton Tribune


Jailhouse friend: McCowan had concerns about evidence, said his father found Amanda Bach's cell phone

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According to Dustin McCowan’s jailhouse friend, McCowan had concerns about what the FBI lab might find in physical evidence recovered from his home.

McCowan also had concerns that his fingerprint might be recovered from Amanda Bach’s vehicle.

But McCowan had no concerns about “the gun,” the jailhouse friend testified on Tuesday.

McCowan also told his friend that his father, Elliott McCowan, had recovered Bach’s cell phone from where he had previously concealed it near his home, the jailhouse friend testified. And McCowan was happy to learn that the McCowan home on C.R. 625W was being sold, because anything which might subsequently be found in the house could not “be put on” him.

Charles Wade III is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to two Class B felonies, each punishable by a term of six to 20 years: carjacking and criminal confinement, during the commission of which Wade admitted using a knife.

Under Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek’s direct examination, Wade described how, over a four- to five-month period in the late fall of 2011 and the early winter of 2012, he and McCowan became fast friends while incarcerated in the same pod of the Porter County Jail. Over that period, he and McCowan had “a couple” of lengthy conversations about McCowan’s case, Wade stated, although Wade also said that at no time did he see any of McCowan’s “paperwork”—the probable cause affidavit or police reports—nor did he ever read any newspaper accounts of the investigation.

Wade testified as well that he became close to other members of McCowan’s family, including his father, Elliott McCowan.

Why did Wade agree to testify in this case? Polarek asked.

Because, Wade replied, he learned that he was being investigated for allegedly extorting commissary items from McCowan. “I wanted to clear my name,” he said.

Wade gave this account on the stand of what, he said, McCowan told him:

•Bach went to his house late on the night of Thursday, Sept. 15, to tell McCowan that her father would no longer let her to talk to him.

•Bach spent much of that time texting other people and, Wade quoted McCowan, “that would really piss me off.”

•So McCowan grabbed Bach’s cell phone and in the process accidentally hit her in the nose, causing her to bleed on the carpet.

•McCowan fetched a sweatshirt to wipe up the blood. Earlier in the day, Wade said he recalled McCowan saying, McCowan had been wearing that sweatshirt while “shooting” and he was now fearful that both his DNA and gunshot residue would be found on it. Wade also testified that a “gun” had been wrapped in the sweatshirt or near it.

•At that point Bach told McCowan that she wanted to leave, he pleaded with her to stay and talk, and it’s “possibly” that exchange, Wade said, which McCowan believes Linda Phillips may have heard.

•McCowan and Bach then went “for a ride,” with McCowan driving, and Wade testified that McCowan said he was afraid that investigators might recover his fingerprint from her car.

•Later, McCowan was “walking back” and realized that he still had Bach’s cell phone, so he hid it in a spot near his home “where they used to smoke,” Wade testified. While the two were in jail together, McCowan returned from a “pastor visit” at which he learned “his dad had found the phone,” Wade said.

•Wade did say that he specifically asked about “the gun.” McCowan’s response, according to Wade; “I ain’t worried about that gun. That gun is done for.”

•McCowan was also pleased to learn that the McCowan home was up for sale, because that meant that “anything they found in the house they can’t put on me,” Wade said he recalled McCowan saying.

Was Wade promised anything by the prosecutors for his testimony? Polarek asked.

Wade said that he was promised nothing.

Under defense attorney Nick Barnes’ cross examination, Wade said that his sentencing has been delayed at least seven times since March 2012 and that the prosecutor handling his case is Chief Prosecuting Attorney Matt Frost, who is also prosecuting McCowan.

Wade also testified that, on one occasion, when McCowan was placed “in the hole for 24 hours” for some infraction, McCowan trusted Wade with his personal belongings, which included the probable cause affidavit in his case. Did you look through McCowan’s belongings? Barnes asked.

Wade said that he didn’t.

Why didn’t Wade mention in his deposition to the defense—taken in January 2013—that McCowan told him he was driving Bach’s car? That McCowan told him his father had found Bach’s cell phone? That McCowan was happy to hear that the home was up for sale?

“I was getting confused,” Wade responded. “I was trying to tell you everything.”


Posted 2.20.2013