Pharos-Tribune

April 7, 2013

Formerly convicted robber found not guilty

Robert Dowell had faced 45 year sentence

by Caitlin Huston
Pharos-Tribune

— A broad smile spread across Robert Dowell’s face Saturday afternoon, as a Cass County jury declared him not guilty of a crime that he had previously been sentenced him to 45 years.

After four days on trial, Dowell, 40, Logansport, was found not guilty of robbing and beating a man in March 2011. Dowell had been convicted by a jury of the class A felony in December 2011, but the conviction was overturned in an Indiana Supreme Court Appeal.

Dowell was facing the class A felony of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, a class A felony, for reportedly plotting with a woman in the early morning hours of March 9, 2011, to lure a 30-year-old man away from the Corner Pub and steal his money. The man was driven out to a remote area and beaten, then robbed of $3,000, according to police reports.

After receiving a 45-year-sentence in December 2011, Dowell had his conviction overturned a year later because the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed that Special Judge Douglas Morton had erred by giving instructions to the jury after deliberations and then did not re-read the instructions set out at the beginning of the trial.

Throughout his previous trial, Dowell proclaimed his innocence and his public defender Lisa Traylor-Wolff said his innocence was apparent through his alibi. Alice Hankee, his sister’s mother-in-law, said she was at home with him when the beating was said to have occurred.

And during this week’s trial in Cass Superior Court II, Dowell said he was “outraged” by the case. He said though he had overheard a conversation to rob the man, he did not take any part in it.

“I had nothing to do with it,” Dowell said.

Dowell said co-defendants Dustin Rush and Mindy Boehme, who had come to the bar with him, left the bar to commit the act, while he went back to his sister’s home in Logansport. Hankee, and his own sister, confirmed the fact that he was at home when the beating had taken place.

Cass County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Swaim said Dowell’s interactions at the bar with the victim and his conversations with Rush and Boehme proved that he participated in the plan.

“This was a knowing and intentional act,” Swaim said.

In response, Matthew Barrett, Dowell’s attorney, questioned the legitimacy of Rush and Boehme’s testimony, and said during the trial the state presented “misleading, biased witnesses and drunken dreams.”

“The state’s case was based on nothing more than people who were untruthful, high on drugs and a sloppy investigation,” Barrett said in an interview after the verdict.

Rush has pleaded guilty to the crime, while Boehme still faces trial. Both were offered immunity for their testimony during the trial, Barrett said.

Cass Superior II Judge Rick Maughmer presided over Dowell’s case.

After the not guilty verdict was read, Dowell turned around to look at his family, many of whom were crying. He touched his heart and said “Thank You” to them.

His class A felony would have carried a penalty of 20 to 50 years in a prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Asked about her thoughts on the verdict, Swaim said the jury did what they thought was right.

“The jury has spoken,” Swaim said.

Barrett said his client was particularly happy to have a chance at a normal life again.

“He’s especially glad to go home and see his daughter,” Barrett said.

Caitlin Huston is a staff reporter of the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5148 or caitlin.huston@pharostribune.com.

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