MIAMI COUNTY — On Tuesday in Miami County Common Pleas Court, opening statements were made in the murder trial of Frank Bowen, 25, of Tipp City, who allegedly killed Joseph Graley III, 31, of New Carlisle, with a mini sledgehammer before burying his body in the backyard of his home in Bethel Township last October.
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, by Miami County Sheriff’s Office on an unrelated warrant.
Graley was found deceased by blunt force trauma to the head in the backyard of his home on Scarff Road in Bethel Township by Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Oct. 23. A family member reported Graley missing on Oct. 22.
Sheriff’s officials located Bowen at Graley’s home during the welfare check on Oct. 22.
Miami County Assistant Prosecutor Janna Parker claimed Bowen took advantage of Graley’s hospitality and friendship, which ultimately lead to his death.
According to Parker’s opening statement, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation 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 home. Parker also stated BCI found Bowen’s DNA on the handle of the alleged weapon — a mini sledgehammer — which was found 30 yards away from Graley’s body. Graley’s DNA was also found on the head of the tool.
Parker stated Bowen drove Graley’s car, continued to live at his home and also broke into Graley’s safe and sold Graley’s marijuana and prescription pills to his family and friends while Graley’s body was left buried in his own back yard.
Bowen is represented by Miami County public defender attorneys Steve Layman and Steve King.
In Layman’s opening statements, Layman states Graley was depressed and suicidal at the time of his death. Layman also stated Bowen did not flee Graley’s home or leave the area at the time Graley was missing. Layman also said it is still unclear where Graley was killed or when he was deceased. Layman also claimed Bowen was cooperative with Miami County Sheriff’s Office authorities for more than three hours during questioning about the circumstances of Graley’s death before requesting legal counsel.
Layman stated due to the fact Graley and Bowen were friends and roommates, their DNA would be found on multiple household items, many which were left untested by investigators.
Bowen was arrested for an outstanding warrant unrelated to Graley’s disappearance at the time of the investigation. The following day, on Oct. 23, detectives found Graley buried under brush, boards and debris in the backyard of his home. According to court documents, Graley appeared to have died on Oct. 8.
Bowen remains incarcerated in the Miami County Jail on a $250,000 bond. The trial continues on Wednesday with Miami County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Gee presiding.
Reach Melanie Yingst at email@example.com. For updates during this trial, follow her on Twitter @Troydailynews