MIAMI COUNTY — On Wednesday morning, members of the jury for the murder retrial of Frank L. Bowen toured the property where the victim, Joseph Graley III, 31, of New Carlisle, was found dead by blunt force trauma to the head and neck, his body decaying in the backyard of his own home on Scarff Road in Bethel Township on Oct. 23, 2014.
It was the second day of a five-day retrial of Bowen, 26, of Tipp City, who was arrested at the home on the evening on Oct. 22, 2014, on an unrelated warrant.
Jurors heard testimony from Miami County Sheriff’s Office officer Deputy Ethan Ennist, who was the first deputy on the scene after Graley was reported missing.
Sgt. Jason Moore also testified about questioning Bowen about Graley’s whereabouts and his role collecting evidence at the home. Moore said during the questioning session, Bowen quietly stated to him that he felt Graley was deceased.
Jurors also heard testimony from a close friend of Graley’s, Josh Sanning, who testified he was the one who notified authorities on Oct. 22, 2014, about Graley being a missing person.
Sanning said Bowen’s stories about Graley’s whereabouts included that he was in Michigan with his mother for a funeral, that his mother had sent him to rehab for heroin addiction, and that he had gone camping with another friend. Sanning stated he began to become suspicious when he found Graley’s travel bag, which he took with him anytime he left the home for periods of time. Sanning also said he found Graley’s anxiety medication in the safe and that he knew Graley never left home with out the medicine.
During cross-examination, Sanning said Bowen never discouraged Sanning from coming to the house at anytime.
Other witness testimony included Graley’s mother, Terri Coburn, who would stop by Graley’s home, which she owns, on her way to work second shift on a semi-regular basis to bring food and other items to Graley. Coburn stated she does not have any family members in Michigan. Coburn said the last day she saw her son was when she dropped off dress clothes for Graley for a job interview on Oct. 7. Coburn said she wished Graley good luck, gave him a hug and left for work. She said it was the last time she saw her son.
Bryan White, a special agent with Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, photographed the crime scene and collected evidence both from the exterior and interior of Graley’s home. White stated Graley’s body was found wearing only boxer shorts, with his arms above his head. White said Graley’s body had been decomposing “for some time” and showed signs of severe trauma to the head. White also collected evidence including the alleged weapon, a mini sledgehammer, which was leaning against a tree approximately 32 feet away from the body near the concrete well pad. White also attended Graley’s autopsy, which revealed Graley died of blunt force trauma to the back of the head and neck.
Bowen pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence from his arrest on Oct. 22, 2014, by Miami County Sheriff’s Office on an unrelated warrant.
Last August, after 14 hours of deliberations, jurors found Bowen guilty of fourth-degree safe-cracking. The jury then declared a mistrial on the rest of the charges, including murder. Bowen awaits sentencing for the safe-cracking charge following the retrial.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews
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