By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — An appellate judge upheld the 97-year sentence for a man convicted as a teenager of the grisly murder of his Anderson neighbor in 1996.
Indiana Court of Appeals Judge John Baker denied the appeal of Dustin Trowbridge of New Castle, affirming the long sentenced levied on him by Madison Circuit Court 3 Judge Thomas Newman.
On May 2, 1996, Trowbridge, who was 14 at the time, sneaked into the mobile home of Doris Swindell, 69, in Anderson, hid in her bedroom and watched her perform yard work through a window. When she came inside, Trowbridge beat her, choked her, forced her to the floor and ultimately strangled her to death with a swimsuit she was carrying.
Investigators found that Trowbridge had also moved her to a bed and forcibly had sex with the woman, but couldn’t determine whether that happened before or after her death. Trowbridge threw a blanket over her body, stole jewelry, cash and car keys from Swindell’s home, then stole the woman’s car. He then went on a spree, driving Swindell’s car to pick up friends and buy fast food and ice cream.
Police became suspicious of Trowbridge when his mother’s fiance, a police officer, noticed behavioral changes and odd questions from Trowbridge.
The boy was tried as an adult and was found guilty of murder, rape, robbery, burglary, criminal confinement, aggravated battery, theft, auto theft and abuse of a corpse. He was given a sentence of 199 years, which was later reduced to 97 years after the charge of rape was reversed and several other charges had sentences reduced.
Trowbridge and his appellate attorney argued that the trial court had erred in sentencing, but Baker determined the sentence had already been properly adjusted at the direct appeal level in 1999.
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