Dustin McCowan opts against telling his side of the story

2013-02-21T15:30:00Z 2013-08-06T12:40:10Z Dustin McCowan opts against telling his side of the storyBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
February 21, 2013 3:30 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | The evidence portion of the Dustin McCowan murder trial wrapped up Thursday afternoon with the accused opting against taking the witness stand to tell his side of the story.

The defense rested after presenting 11 witnesses over the past two days, as compared to 43 witnesses presented by prosecutors over the 2 1/2 weeks prior.

Closing arguments and deliberations will begin Tuesday, according to Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

A defense witness told jurors Thursday morning that calls placed from McCowan's cellphone on the night he is accused of killing his former girlfriend Amanda Bach were placed from his home.

The testimony from private investigator and former state police Officer Ryan Harmon conflicted with evidence presented earlier this week by prosecutors that McCowan's cellphone was shown during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011, to be at several locations around and between where 19-year-old Bach's body and car were found. They were discovered not far from McCowan's then-Union Township home.

Harmon said he came to his conclusion by locating the cellphone towers in the area in question, mapping how far out their signals carry and then looking to see where they overlapped.

Prosecutors did not use this overlapping technique, which is the best approach considering the lack of GPS technology available, he said.

"These plots are not GPS," he said of the maps provided by prosecutors that show individual locations of cellphone activity rather than sweeping signals areas from the towers.

Harmon acknowledged in response to a question from the jury that the plots presented by prosecutors fell within the tower signal area.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matthew Frost did not question Harmon's findings, but rather questioned him about his three recent convictions for providing false information to police during an investigation.

Harmon said the convictions resulted from political attacks stemming from his investigations into public corruption. He said he maintains his innocence and is appealing.

Frost also asked Harmon whether it was true he was pressured to retire as a state police officer and left in disgrace. Harmon said no to the latter question and said he simply retired.

Also testifying Thursday on behalf of the defense was Les Blythe, co-owner of Blythe's Sport Shop in Valparaiso and Griffith, who said that more than half of the guns sold at his two stores each year fit the diameter description of the weapon used in Bach's slaying.

Each store also sells 20,000 rounds of that type of ammunition each year, he said.

The only question posed by Frost was whether Blythe knew how many Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolvers were reported missing from McCowan's house. Blythe did not know.

Porter County Deputy Coroner David Souders testified Thursday he saw some blood under Bach's body from the area where it was recovered along County Road 625 West at the Canadian National Railroad tracks.

But he could not say if that is the area where she had been shot.

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