VALPARAISO | After three weeks of evidence and testimony, the jury is expected to begin deliberating Tuesday on the fate of Dustin McCowan -- accused of murdering his former girlfriend Amanda Bach.
Security, heightened during the trial for the large crowds of supporters present for each family, is expected to be enhanced even further Tuesday. There is also talk of demonstrations outside the courthouse.
Prosecutors and the defense will be given up to two hours each Tuesday morning to sum up the weeks of evidence presented during the trial.
The jury will then be provided with instructions from the court before heading off behind closed doors with the goal of coming up with a verdict. The group needs to come up with a unanimous decision to either free or convict McCowan.
The defense wrapped up its case Thursday after presenting 11 witnesses over a two-day period. Prosecutors presented 43 witnesses over the 2 1/2 weeks prior.
McCowan, 20, is accused of shooting 19-year-old Bach in the throat during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011 after she showed up at the Union Township-home he was living in at the time with his father. Bach's partially clothed body was found the following day less than 300 yards from the house in wooded area along County Road 625 West at the Canadian National Railroad tracks.
Prosecutors have presented witnesses who said they saw McCowan walking in the area on the night in question and heard gunshots, a man's voice saying, "Amanda get up," and a female responding, "I can't believe this is happening."
An FBI witness also testified a puncture in the sidewall of Bach's car tire appeared to have been created by a stabbing from a knife.
McCowan, who opted against taking the stand to tell his side of the story, maintains his innocence. His defense team spent much of the trial criticizing the police investigation as inadequate. The defense has raised question about the involvement of other individuals, including the Wheeler man who helped police locate Bach's body.
Conflicting evidence was presented about the whereabouts of McCowan's cellphone during the time period in question and how long Bach's body had been lying outside based on the maturation of fly eggs. There was testimony McCowan repeatedly sent text messages to a friend from 1:36 a.m. to 4:07 a.m. on the day in question saying he was coming over and yet never showed up.
There was no DNA or other bodily evidence presented directly linking McCowan to the crime. While the gun used in the crime was never found, McCowan's father testified that one that could have been used was discovered missing from his house. An FBI witness said several types and makes of guns could have been used.
Both sides also presented testimony about McCowan's decision to follow through on a planned trip to Indiana University in Bloomington on the day Bach went missing, and his decision not to return to help search for her body.