Chesterton Tribune

 
 

The verdict: McCowan Guilty

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By KEVIN NEVERS

At 10:45 p.m. Tuesday a jury convicted Dustin McCowan of the murder of Amanda Bach.

McCowan hung his head.

From the Bach side of the courtroom: broad smiles, sighs of relief, the shaking of hands.

From the McCowan side: sharp intakes of breath, quiet crying.

Defense attorney Nick Barnes promptly asked Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa to poll the jurors individually. To Alexa’s question—“Do you agree with the verdict?”—all 12, in turn, said “Yes,” clearly, without demur or hesitation. Alexa put the same question to the three alternate jurors, one of whom had entered the courtroom minutes before in tears. All three similarly said “Yes.”

Deliberations began at 3:45 p.m., were suspended for around two hours for supper, and resumed at around 7 p.m. At 10:15 p.m. the jury informed Alexa that a verdict had been reached.

Total time of deliberations: approximately four and a half hours.

The media and the Bach and McCowan contingents began assembling in the courtroom shortly after 10:15 p.m. The courtroom was crowded and security was high: 10 uniformed PCSP officers, including Sheriff Dave Lain, and a courthouse security officer, assumed positions in the rear and at the front. After McCowan had been led in and his handcuffs removed, Barnes shook hands with him, then both Barnes and defense attorney John Vouga clapped him on the back. From the jury room: the sound of laughter, as was often heard during the course of the trial, as jurors awaited sessions to begin.

Next

After reading the verdict, Alexa told McCowan that the next step is the Probation Office’s pre-sentence investigation. “Mr. McCowan, I think it would be in your best interest to cooperate with the preparation of that report,” Alexa said.

A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, March 28.

The Jury

Then Alexa—who noted that the three-week trial was the longest of his 10 years on the bench—warmly expressed his gratitude to the jury.

“I thank you for your perseverance, your attention,” he said. “You asked a total of 95 questions. They were all good questions, that they were. And they showed you were paying attention.”

Alexa then dismissed the jury, with the observation that they were now free to discuss the trial with others if they chose but were also free not to, and should anyone importune or badger them, they should report that person to the court.

Outside the Courthouse

Outside the courthouse, awaiting the verdict, were 30 to 40 supporters of the Bach family, many of them wearing pink and carrying signs with such messages as “McCowan is Guilty.”

On learning of the verdict, they began cheering and chanting: “Justice was served” and “Justice for Amanda.”

Press Conference Today

A press conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the PCSP, where Sheriff Lain and others, including possibly representatives of the Bach family, were expected to speak.

 

Posted 2/27/2013