McCowan murder sentencing Thursday

2013-03-27T17:15:00Z 2013-03-28T15:33:10Z McCowan murder sentencing ThursdayBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com

VALPARAISO | Thirty days after Dustin McCowan was whisked out of the courtroom after being found guilty of murdering former girlfriend Amanda Bach, he will make a return visit Thursday afternoon to face sentencing.

The 20-year-old faces between 45 and 65 years behind bars.

Security is expected to be as tight Thursday as it was during the trial that lasted much of February before Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

The trial attracted a full house of family members and supporters from both sides, who are expected to return for the 2 p.m. sentencing.

McCowan was convicted Feb. 26 of the Sept. 16, 2011, slaying of 19-year-old Bach, of Portage, whose body was found with a bullet hole through the throat along railroad tracks less than 300 yards from the Union Township home McCowan was living in at the time with his father.

While the mothers of McCowan and Bach cried when the verdict was read, McCowan, who was standing, closed his eyes and then sat down and looked toward the floor.

Amanda Bach's father, Bill Bach, said at the time he is hoping for the maximum sentence, but pointed out McCowan still will be a young man when he’s released.

Defense attorney John Vouga said he plans to appeal.

McCowan's defense team had taken the unusual step of securing the right to attend a standard, court-ordered interview with McCowan that is part of a report used for sentencing.

Vouga said he wanted to be present to protect McCowan's constitutional rights and steer his client away from discussing his version of the events. Vouga said he encourages his clients to direct the probation officer asking this type of question back to the details in the plea agreement or to the facts that came out during a trial.

Porter County Chief Probation Officer Stephen Meyer disagreed with the approach, saying his officers are instructed by state policy to seek out the defendant's version of the crime as part of the job of painting a full picture of the individual for the judge to consider at sentencing.

Meyer said he understood Vouga's desire to limit the information provided by McCowan in preparation for an appeal. The problem, he said, is the presence of an attorney can interfere with defendant sharing information and it is in the defendant's best interest to cooperate.

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