Prosecutor: McCowan's neighbor heard gunshots on night of murder

2013-02-05T17:40:00Z 2013-02-06T10:10:06Z Prosecutor: McCowan's neighbor heard gunshots on night of murderBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
February 05, 2013 5:40 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | Dustin McCowan covered his face with his hand, looked down and later wiped his eyes with a tissue while prosecutors showed autopsy photos of his former girlfriend and homicide victim 19-year-old Amanda Bach.

The graphic images, which showed a gunshot wound to the front of the Portage woman's neck and a large dragging-type wound covering much of her back, was presented to jurors during opening arguments in the trial accusing McCowan of shooting Bach on Sept. 16, 2011.

Before a packed courtroom of family members and supporters of both Bach and McCowan, prosecutors revealed a few new details, such as a neighbor near McCowan's Union Township home hearing what she believed was a gunshot on the night in question.

Bach's body was found Sept. 17, 2011, fewer than 300 yards from McCowan's house.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost also told jurors an orange long-sleeved T-shirt containing Bach's DNA was found in the area where her body was recovered and 45 yards from McCowan's house. McCowan was a fan of orange shirts, Frost said.

The first witness to testify was Bach's father, William Bach. He said that when his daughter's car was discovered abandoned outside Dean's General Store on Ind. 130 in Wheeler, the driver's seat was pushed all the way back, which was out of place for her 5-foot-2-inch body. Jurors were shown photos of Amanda Bach driving the vehicle with the seat far enough forward that her knees were well under the steering wheel column.

Defense attorney John Vouga countered by calling prosecutors' version of the events a story with lots of details left out.

He also criticized the police as grossly negligent in their investigation and said they did an "obligatory and shoddy" job.

Vouga said McCowan was arrested less than three hours after Bach's body was found. Police charged him 48 hours later "and they never looked back," he said.

"Dustin McCowan is innocent," Vouga said. "His future lies in the integrity of this judicial system."

Evidence will show Bach's body could not have been laying dead as long as prosecutors claim, which will clear McCowan because he was never alone during this shorter period of time, Vouga said. Cellphone and gun evidence are also not as certain as portrayed by prosecutors, he said.

The trial is to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday before Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

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