VALPARAISO | Dustin McCowan claims he was home during the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2011 -- when it is believed his former girlfriend Amanda Bach was killed.
But activity from his cellphone tells a different story, a Porter County Sheriff's Department detective testified Tuesday morning.
Cell activity recorded from towers in the Wheeler area place McCowan's phone at several locations around and between where Bach's body and car were found, according to Detective Gene Hopkins.
The sites identified by Verizon Wireless are not considered exact, but rather "best estimated locations," he said. It shows patterns and movement of cellphone use.
The defense in the McCowan murder trial made a failed attempt Tuesday to keep the cellphone information away from the jurors, attacking its reliability and comparing Hopkins' expertise to an "elementary student attempting to do calculus."
In response to questioning from defense attorney Nicholas Barnes, Hopkins said he had been told the technology provided by Verizon is "spot on" in some cases and as much as a mile or more off in others.
"Are they accurate Detective Hopkins?" Barnes asked.
"They can be, yes," Hopkins replied.
One map presented by the defense showed a couple usage points 1 1/2 miles away from McCowan's then-Union Township home at a time when he was believed to have been at the house. Hopkins said the accuracy of the locations is based in part on the strength of the cell signal.
He said it could be affected by the tall corn growing in the area during the night in question.
Also testifying at the start of the third week of the trial was Charles Wade III, who said McCowan had told him while they were locked up together he was concerned about police discovering blood and gun powder evidence in connection with Bach's death.
McCowan said he accidentally struck Bach in the nose on the night in question while reaching for her cellphone and some of her blood may have dripped on the carpet of his home, Wade said. McCowan also reportedly told Wade he was getting a sweatshirt for the blood and the sweatshirt may have gun power residue on it from him shooting earlier while wearing it.
Wade said McCowan told him when he realized he still had Bach's cellphone after she left, he discarded it in an abandoned house near where he lived. McCowan said his father later found Bach's phone, Wade said.
Barnes accused Wade of lying in hopes of easing his upcoming sentence on charges of carjacking and criminal confinement.