Judge: Autopsy photos can be shown during McCowan murder trial

2013-01-09T18:00:00Z 2013-08-06T12:40:09Z Judge: Autopsy photos can be shown during McCowan murder trialBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
January 09, 2013 6:00 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | A judge denied a request by the defense Wednesday to bar autopsy photos during next month's Dustin McCowan murder trial.

"The state is entitled to prove its case," said Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.

Defense attorney John Vouga said he would stipulate to the identity of the victim, 19-year-old Amanda Bach, and to the cause of her death.

Showing the photographs to the jury would thus have a greater prejudicial impact on McCowan than their value in the case, he said.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Matt Frost said he intends to use the photographs but will not use surgically manipulated images of Bach.

Alexa reminded McCowan's attorneys they can object to the use of the photos at trial, which begins Feb. 4.

McCowan, 20, of Union Township, is accused of killing Portage resident Bach, who was found shot to death Sept. 17, 2011, about 300 yards from McCowan’s house. Bach was McCowan's former girlfriend.

The defense team was granted a few of its requests Wednesday, including those prohibiting prosecutors from bringing up a previous arrest for which McCowan was not convicted at the trial or a long list of alleged character traits including accusations that McCowan is controlling, angry, sexually promiscuous, a marijuana user and was suicidal at one time.

Jurors also will not hear allegations that McCowan said he disliked or hated Bach.

Defense attorney Nicholas Barnes also asked Alexa to prohibit prosecutors from introducing claims by one of McCowan's neighbors, who said she heard statements outside her home on the night in question including a male voice saying, "Amanda get up," and a female voice saying," I just can't believe this is happening."

The neighbor said she did not see anyone.

Barnes called the statements hearsay, while prosecutors said they are relevant because of their timing and location.

Alexa took the defense's request concerning the neighbor's statements under consideration.

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