MIAMI COUNTY — On Wednesday in Miami County Common Pleas Court, graphic photos of Joseph Graley III, 31, of New Carlisle, were shown to the jury depicting the massive blunt force trauma he sustained to his skull and face, which led to his death last October.
Graley was found deceased by blunt force trauma to the head in the backyard of his home on Scarff Road in Bethel Township on Oct. 23, 2014. A family member reported Graley missing on Oct. 22. Sheriff’s officials located Frank Bowen, 25, of Tipp City, at Graley’s home during Graley’s welfare check on Oct. 22.
In previous court proceedings, Bowen pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and safe-cracking stemming from his arrest on Oct. 22, 2014, on an unrelated warrant.
Miami County Prosecutor Tony Kendell and assistant prosecutor Janna Parker called several witnesses to the stand including the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s crime scene special agent Bryan White and Dr. Lee Lehman, forensic pathologist and chief deputy coroner with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.
Dr. Lehman, an expert in forensic pathology, performed Graley’s autopsy that depicted “many, many blows” to Graley’s skull and facial area. Dr. Lehman stated his injuries could be considered “consistent with” a mini sledgehammer type of tool. A mini sledgehammer was found in the woods leaning against a tree several feet from Graley’s body by BCI officials.
Dr. Lehman also stated Graley’s facial area had “too many fractures to be described individually” and photos of facial bone fragments were shown to the jury. Dr. Lehman also stated many parts of the facial area of the skull were missing entirely rendering Graley’s facial features unrecognizable. Dr. Lehman said Graley had several narcotics in his toxicology report, but the levels were not lethal to cause his death.
Autopsy photos showed Graley’s skull had a 4.5-centimeter blow to the head, which Dr. Lehman said was consistent with the approximate size of the rounded head of a mini sledgehammer or similar type of tool. Dr. Lehman noted the injuries could not have been self-inflicted nor did he note any defense wounds during his examination.
White, a special agent with Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, photographed the crime scene and collected evidence both in the exterior and interior of Graley’s home. White stated how he and his partner discovered Graley’s blood on a backdoor, a bloody towel in the washing machine, as well as Graley’s pet dog dead in a garbage bag in a trash can in the front of the home. White also said Graley’s body was found wearing only boxer shorts and had been decomposing “for some time” and showed signs of “severe, severe trauma to the head.” Defense attorney Steven King asked White why he did not have the sticks, boards, and debris tested for DNA evidence. White was unable to confirm the reason.
Other witness testimony included a friend of Graley’s whom Bowen contacted via Facebook on Oct. 11-13 about obtaining a large amount of marijuana. Another close friend of Graley’s, Josh Sanning, testified he confronted Bowen on Oct. 22 about Graley being missing. Sanning said he then cleared his personal belongings from Graley’s home including two guns, a laptop and Graley’s prescription medication as well as multiple pieces of Graley’s drug paraphernalia, and a key from Bowen, before contacting law enforcement about Graley’s disappearance.
Bowen remains incarcerated in the Miami County Jail on a $250,000 bond. The trial continues on Thursday with Miami County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Gee presiding.