Chesterton Tribune


McCowan trial testimony: Man on the road, missing gun

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The PCSP investigator who interviewed Michael Steege—the eyewitness who previously testified that he saw Dustin McCowan walking southbound along C.R. 650W at 2:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, 2011—did not show Steele a photo lineup because, he says, McCowan’s picture had already been published in the media.

Under direct examination on Wednesday, Det. Sgt. Tim Manteuffel testified very briefly about the ATF trace he did on the Smith & Wesson .38 Special Airlite which McCowan’s father, Elliott McCowan, told investigators is missing from beneath the sofa. Manteuffel stated that he was able to confirm that Elliott McCowan had previously purchased the handgun from a Lake Station family.

Defense attorney John Vouga, however, wanted to discuss Manteuffel’s interview with Steege. During that interview, as Vouga asked Manteuffel to recall, Steege described the figure he saw early that morning as being 5’ 6’’ to 5’ 8’’ in height. “And you said ‘Are you sure he wasn’t taller?’” To which Steege replied “‘Well, maybe 5’ 9’’ in height.’ Do you recall that?” Vouga asked Manteuffel.

Manteuffel said he did.

“Do you know that Dustin McCowan is 6’ 3’’ and weighs 175 pounds?” Vouga asked.

“I do now,” Manteuffel replied.

Normally, in a photo lineup, you would show pictures of six people with generally the same features, to make it more difficult for a witness to identify the suspect in question? Vouga asked.

Manteuffel agreed that normally he would.

Under re-direct examination, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek asked Manteuffel whether “it made sense to use Dustin McCowan’s photo” in a lineup because it had already been published in the newspapers.

Manteuffel said that it wouldn’t have made any sense and “That’s why I didn’t use it.”

Under re-cross examination, Manteuffel testified that, had he wanted to, he could have had another mugshot of McCowan taken and used that in a photo lineup instead.

More on the Missing .38

For his part, Det. Lt. Eric Jones testified under direct examination that Elliott McCowan told him, early on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 18, that he was unable to find the .38 Special Airlite five-shot revolver which he kept loaded under the sofa in the living.

When subsequently asked to provide any ammunition for that handgun which he might have on hand, Elliott McCowan did so, Jones stated.

Under cross-examination, Vouga asked Jones whether Dustin McCowan wasn’t already in custody and being questioned by PCSP investigators when Elliott McCowan advised him of the missing .38.

Jones said that he was already in custody.

Elliott McCowan “could have said nothing about that gun?”

“Yes, that’s true,” Jones said.

Brooke Hutchins,

Kim Howe

Meanwhile, Brooke Hutchins—the twin sister of Brandon Hutchins, Dustin McCowan’s best friend—and her mother, Kim Howe, testified about the visit they had at 5 a.m. Friday, Sept. 16, from McCowan and Allison Bolde.

Under direct examination, Hutchins described McCowan’s demeanor at the time as “pretty relaxed” and said that “I thought he would have been more stressed out.” Cross examined by defense attorney Nick Barnes, Hutchins said, among other things, that at that time her brother Brandon did not appear unduly worried either, when she spoke with him on the phone. She also said that McCowan showed no signs of intoxication during the early-morning visit.

Next, Howe testified under direct examination that McCowan appeared “his normal self,” that is, “reserved, laid back,” although she also stated that, at some point, McCowan went to the bathroom, where she thought she heard him vomiting. Howe stated as well that, while making calls to friends asking them whether they knew of Bach’s whereabouts, McCowan “sounded like a tape recorder, like he was programmed” and that he kept “saying the same thing over and over and over.”

Under cross-examination, Vouga asked Howe whether, when she later kissed him, she smelled vomit on his breath. Howe said she did not.

And Vouga wondered why the police officer to whom she described McCowan’s demeanor—about sounding like a tape recorder—apparently did not make note of that in his report. “So the officer just left it out of the report? Vouga asked.

“I don’t know,” Howe replied.



Posted 2/14/2013