VALPARAISO | A forensic insect specialist countered one of his former instructors Friday when he testified on behalf of the defense that Amanda Bach's body was most likely dumped Sept. 17, 2011, a day later than prosecutors are alleging.
Neal Haskell, an entomologist from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, said he based his conclusion on photographs and video of the scene, the autopsy report and weather data from the period in question.
A more certain conclusion could have been drawn had police collected some of the fly eggs found on Bach's body, he said.
"That's a major omission of evidence," Haskell said.
Haskell said he found the omission great enough that he waived his usual fee as a consultant to testify on behalf of the defense for 20-year-old Dustin McCowan, who is accused of shooting Bach to death Sept. 16, 2011, and dumping her body fewer than 300 yards from his family's then-Union Township home.
Ralph Williams, an entomologist from Purdue University and one-time instructor of Haskell, testified Wednesday the fly egg evidence indicates Bach's body was likely dumped Sept. 16, 2011, where it was found a day later along railroad tracks.
Both of the men based their findings on research of how long it takes fly eggs to mature. Temperature and daylight were key elements in their arguments.
"We should have started seeing maggots at that time, but we didn't," Haskell said referring to the Sept. 19, 2011, autopsy.
Haskell refuted the assumption of Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost that Bach's body being placed for a period in a morgue cooler meant the eggs remained cool once the body was removed and thus slowed their maturation.
Haskell did say it was possible Bach was dumped on Sept. 16, 2011, but most likely it occurred after dark on that day or into the next day.
Jurors were shown graphic photographs this week showing large amounts of fly eggs in Bach's matted hair and were told eggs also were found in her nose.
Haskell was allowed to testify during the prosecution's portion of the case because he will be unavailable next week when the defense is expected to mount its case.
Also testifying Friday was Jessica Guy, who said McCowan showed no reaction when he received word by phone of Bach's death while at a gathering at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Only later did she see him with his head in his hands.
Eric Rivera, a friend of Bach, testified that McCowan somehow got his cellphone number to notify him Bach was missing.
He said the only prior contact he had with McCowan was over Bach's cellphone, which is missing.
In response to questions from the defense, Rivera said McCowan could have got his number from someone else or from Facebook.
The trial will not continue until Tuesday morning as a result of county government being closed Monday for Presidents Day.