Chesterton Tribune



Court upholds McCowan murder conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the murder conviction of Dustin McCowan who was found guilty in the September 2011 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Portage resident Amanda Bach.

McCowan appealed his conviction and sentence alleging four errors in the ruling of Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa.

The first two were related to McCowan’s cell phone records. McCowan alleged that the cell phone location evidence indicating McCowan’s whereabouts the night of the murder presented by Porter County Sheriff’s Detective Gene Hopkins was admitted in error, and that his constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure were violated when the Porter County Sheriff’s Department secured this information from his cell phone carrier.

In it’s decision, the Appeals Court ruled that cell phone location evidence was properly admitted and legally obtained from the carrier based upon the emergency nature of Amanda Bach’s disappearance which suggested foul play.

The appellate court also heard McCowan’s complaint that the trial court erred in refusing to give his jury instruction regarding presumption of innocence, but the court decided that it appears the trial court’s instructions were given adequately and accurately.

McCowan also alleged that the trial court erred in refusing a jury instruction regarding reasonable doubt and that Judge Alexa should have recused himself prior to sentencing based upon his learning of a post-trial phone call where an acquaintance of McCowan discussed the appropriateness of harm to the children of prosecutors and the lead investigator.

The Appellate Court found no error in refusing the jury instruction and no error in Judge Alexa refusing to recuse himself for the purposes of sentencing.

Porter County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel said in a press release sent to the Chesterton Tribune that he was pleased with the ruling.

“During the appeal process, I was confident that the conviction would be affirmed due to the thorough and comprehensive investigation by the Sheriff’s Department, led by Captain Jeff Biggs and the skillful presentation of the case by Chief Deputy Matt Frost and Deputy Cheryl Polarek,” Gensel said.

In March 2013, Alexa sentenced McCowan to 60 years in the Indiana Department of Corrections following a three-week trial where a jury delivered a guilty verdict for the murder conviction. McCowan is serving his sentence at the Correctional Facility in Pendleton.



Posted 4/25/2014




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