MIAMI COUNTY — As friends desperately searched for clues to where their friend Joe Graley disappeared to for more than two weeks, the defendant Frank Bowen, now 26, drove Graley’s car, sold his marijuana, stayed at his home and lied to his girlfriend about finding employment back in October 2014.
On Oct. 23, 2014, Miami County Sheriff’s Office detectives found Joseph Graley III, 31, of New Carlisle, dead of blunt force trauma to the head, neck and face in the backyard of his home on Scarff Road in Bethel Township. A friend reported Graley missing on Oct. 22. Sheriff’s officials located Bowen at Graley’s home during Graley’s welfare check on Oct. 22, 2014 and arrested him on an unrelated warrant.
On the third day of testimony, jurors heard from 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 fatal 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.
“All of the bones of the face are gone,” Lehman stated. Photos of approximately 70 facial bone fragments were also presented as evidence. Lehman said it would be impossible to cause that much damage to the skull and face area with only one blow to the head. Lehman also said there were not defensive wounds on Graley’s arms or hands.
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 said Graley had several narcotics in his toxicology report, but the levels were not lethal to cause his death. During cross examination, Dr. Lehman stated the body was in advance stages of decomposition and there was not an approximate date of death.
DNA expert analyst Hallie Garofalo from BCI testified the DNA found on the handle of the alleged murder weapon — a mini sledgehammer — matched Bowen’s profile. Graley’s DNA was also found on the alleged weapon. Defense attorneys asked if DNA had a “time-stamp” which Garafalo said it did not. She said DNA is not able to determine when or how the DNA was left on an object — only that it is present.
Jurors also heard testimony from Graley’s girlfriend Haley Haney, 22, mutual friend Kali Geisecke, Frank Bowen’s girlfriend Hannah Domanek, and friend Jeff Strong.
According to testimony from friends, Bowen had told them Graley had left to attend a funeral in Michigan with his mother. Other theories friends had discussed was Graley was in rehab, possibly committed suicide or had gone camping. Friends also searched for a phone number to contact Graley’s mother. Friends testified that Bowen never told them he had seen Terri Coburn a few times when she had stopped in to check on Graley at the house on her way to work. Coburn said she needed to talk to Joe to take care of transferring the title of his new car and to talk about his job interviews he had on Oct. 7.
On Wednesday, Coburn testified she didn’t have family in Michigan nor had she see her son alive since Oct. 6. Coburn said she stopped at the Scarff Road home a few times on her way to work in Huber Heights. She said Bowen would be at the home playing video games in the living room, but didn’t know where Graley had went.
Domanek also testified Bowen had told her he got a job at a factory in Troy working second shift. She testified that weeks later to she contacted the temporary agency to see if Bowen had a paycheck waiting while he was incarcerated. She was then notified he had never worked for the agency.
According to Facebook messages, Bowen had contacted Domanek around 6 p.m. on Oct. 22 to tell her a missing persons report would be filed that day for Graley and he had to miss work to talk to authorities that evening.
Bowen’s defense argued that at no time did he discourage friends and family from searching the home nor did Bowen leave the house when authorities were contacted on Oct. 22.
Witness testimony is schedule to continue Friday with closing arguments tentatively schedule for Tuesday morning.
Bowen’s first jury was unable to reach an agreement on the charges of murder, gross abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence charges on Aug. 4.
The jury found Bowen guilty of fourth degree felony safe-cracking, which carries a prison term of six to 18 months in prison. Bowen remains in Miami County Jail and has not yet been sentenced on the charge.