MIAMI COUNTY — Jury selection and opening statements were made during the first day of a five-day murder retrial of Frank Bowen, now 26, of Tipp City, who allegedly killed Joseph Graley III, 31, of New Carlisle in October 2014.
Bowen allegedly killed Graley with a mini sledgehammer before covering up his body with debris in the backyard of Graley’s home on Scarff Road in Bethel Township.
The retrial continues on Wednesday with a jury view of Graley’s home and property.
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.
Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Janna Parker said Graley was a good friend, “the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back” who gave the defendant a place to stay when he had no place to go.
“In a matter of days, Joe was dead,” she told the jury. Parker said the only person who didn’t seem to care where Graley was or about his well being was Bowen. Parker said Bowen gave conflicting stories to family and friends as they searched for Graley.
Parker said during Graley’s unexplained disappearance, Bowen drove Graley’s car, continued to live at his home and sold Graley’s marijuana and other drugs to his family and friends — all the while Graley’s body was left to rot in his own back yard.
“You will see the defendant’s lies pile up,” she said. “Everyone was looking for Joe except the defendant.”
Bowen is represented by Miami County public defender attorneys Steve Layman and Steven King.
In Layman’s opening statements, Layman stated Bowen never fled Graley’s home or left the area at the time Graley was missing. Layman also said it is still unclear where Graley was killed or when he died.
“Frank Bowen is neither a heartless murder or a stupid man,” Layman said. Layman said while Bowen’s life wasn’t easy at the time of the incident, the state’s case of when and where the alleged murder took place remains unclear. Layman also said the authorities at the Miami County Sheriff’s Office failed to secure a crime scene after Graley was reported missing, allowing family and friends to remove articles from the home prior to the investigation.
Bowen remains incarcerated in the Miami County Jail.