Chesterton Tribune



McCowan claiming Alexa 'prejudiced' seeks to 'correct' 60 year prison sentence

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A motion filed by attorney Mitchell Peters of the public defender’s office on Thursday seeks to “correct errors” in the sentencing of convicted murder Dustin McCowan.

Peters, who has taken over as McCowans’ defense attorney, said Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa’s mention of a recorded telephone conversation at the Porter County Jail where an unidentified person talking with McCowan “arguably made death threats” against the children of the judge and prosecuting attorneys Matt Frost and Cheryl Polarek to see what it feels like to have their children taken away had not been made known to defense attorneys John Vouga and Nick Barnes prior to sentencing.

Alexa said the conversation was one of the reasons why he had decided to sentence McCowan to 60 years in the Department of Corrections without probation.

The motion argues that if the defense counsel “had known of the existence of this conversation, (it) would have requested that Judge Alexa recuse himself from this case” due to the “likelihood of creating a prejudice against the defendant.”

Vouga and Barnes both signed an affidavit saying they were never provided a copy of the recording nor were they informed of it until the judge’s sentencing on March 28. The conversation was never brought up during McCowan’s three-and-a-half week trial for the murder of Portage resident Amanda Bach.

If a prejudicial error is committed on the basis of extrajudicial knowledge, said the motion, then the court under Indiana Trial Rule should “take action to cure the error” by granting a new trial or amend the sentence.

The motion concludes “the Court’s conviction and/or sentencing of the Defendant should be reversed” based on the reasons given.

Alexa had granted McCowan to be appointed a public defender in the 30 days time he has to appeal.

Meanwhile, McCowan has been transported to Pendelton Correction Facility where he will serve his time.


Posted 4/22/2013





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