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Indiana Executes Man for 1988 Shooting

June 13, 2003

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) _ An Indiana man was executed by lethal injection early Friday for the 1988 shooting deaths of his girlfriend and her two children.

Officials at the Indiana State Prison pronounced Joseph Trueblood dead at 12:24 a.m., about four hours after his final court appeal was rejected.

Trueblood, 46, was convicted in the murders of Susan Bowsher of Lafayette and her children, 2-year-old Ashelyn Hughes and 1-year-old William E. Bowsher.

Trueblood rejected the prison’s customary practice of conducting an autopsy on executed inmates. A LaPorte Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order Thursday barring the state from conducting an autopsy and was expected to issue a final ruling Friday.

Trueblood’s attorney Don Pagos said there was no point in an autopsy since the cause of death would be known.

Prison spokesman Barry Nothstine said he could not remember a death row inmate ever fighting an autopsy in his 16 years with the prison.

According to court testimony, Trueblood became enraged in 1988 after learning Bowsher planned to leave him and return to her ex-husband. He shot Bowsher and her two children and buried their bodies in shallow graves in rural Fountain County in western Indiana.

Trueblood told the parole board last month that he was driving with Bowsher and her children on a rural road outside Lafayette when she pulled out a handgun and shot Ashelyn.

He said he tried to wrestle the gun from Bowsher with one hand as he drove with the other. The gun went off twice more, with the second shot hitting William in the head. He said Bowsher then shot herself twice and that she was wounded so badly he fatally shot her in an act of mercy.

Trueblood was the 11th person put to death by the state since it resumed executions in 1981 after 20 years without any.

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