Connor McCowan emotional in court during trial testimony
Judy McCowan, mother of Connor McCowan, testifies what her son told her the night of MSU student Andrew Singler’s slaying. Connor McCowan is charged with open murder in Singler’s stabbing.
On the morning of Feb. 23, Connor McCowan recalled walking up the stairwell to MSU student Andrew Singler’s apartment, where he paused.
According to his testimony in Ingham County Circuit Court, he took out the folding knife he had in his pocket and opened it, exposing the blade. He slid it back into his pocket before he entered his friend’s residence.
McCowan took the stand and testified on Thursday afternoon in the trial charging him with Singler’s murder. During examination by the defense, he didn’t deny stabbing Singler, but said he never intended to cause Singler great bodily harm.
“I didn’t know what would happen,” McCowan said. “I was trying to be on the safe side.”
McCowan said he was upset after getting into a fight with Singler through text messages, telling the court he wanted Singler to know “I didn’t like the way he was talking to me.” But by the time he arrived at Singler’s apartment late that night, he said he had lost the will to fight.
“I wanted to fix things and wanted to make up — We were best friends and shouldn’t have been talking like that to each other,” he said.
Defense attorney Chris Bergstrom asked Connor McCowan questions about summer days spent on Higgins Lake with Singler and his sister Shay McCowan, hoping to demonstrate their relationship as close, loyal friends. Singler had been dating Shay McCowan for more than two years before Singler’s death, and Connor McCowan became friends with Singler during that time as well.
The defense portrayed Connor McCowan as a witness to his sister’s relationship and a friend on the sidelines to both, especially during their rough patches.
Connor McCowan said Singler and Shay McCowan argued two or three times a month, often yelling and calling each other names after they had been drinking. Connor McCowan said he would act as a mediator.
“It was a good relationship; (but) towards the end they argued more than they had in the past,” Connor McCowan said. “I didn’t like when names were called or things like that. I would just try to calm them down.”
At about 3 a.m. Feb. 23, Connor McCowan received a text from Shay McCowan saying Singler had injured her during an argument. When Connor McCowan confronted Singler about the incident, the conversation quickly turned heated.
Singler repeatedly texted Connor McCowan, calling him lewd insults and expressing his desire to fight according to evidence presented in court. Connor McCowan in large part reciprocated Singler’s provocations, at one point texting his sister “I’ll beat the shit out of (Singler), I’ll knock his f****** teeth out.”
Although Connor McCowan knew his sister was safe and away from Singler, he still went to confront him, according to court testimony.
After more than an hour exchanging the profanity and threat-laden messages, Connor McCowan parked at Singler’s apartment building at about 4 a.m. Before going inside, he said he took the knife out of the car’s middle console.
“I was a little nervous, worried,” Connor McCowan said.
After being buzzed into the building and walking up the stairs, Connor McCowan testified he walked into Singler’s hallway to find Tyler Aho, Singler’s roommate, trying to restrain Singler in the doorway of their apartment.
“Tyler got pushed to the side, and before I knew it, Andrew was in front of me, punching me,” Connor McCowan said. “He hit me in the left eyebrow and the head.”
The defense has alleged Singler concussed Connor McCowan, although the concussion was never reported and no medical treatment was given.
“I saw a bright white flash of light and immediately felt so disoriented, like I was dropped into the situation,” Connor McCowan said, sobbing. “I was terrified, I’ve never seen him so mad.”
In between sobs, Connor McCowan testified that he thought he was going to die, and “just wanted to get (Singler) off me,” using the knife out of desperation.
During the testimony of Connor McCowan’s mother Judy McCowan, a juror asked if Singler and Connor McCowan ever roughhoused during their friendship, and who would win. Judy McCowan said they had several times.
“When Andrew and Connor would tussle around, Andrew would end up being on top,” Judy McCowan said.
According to Connor McCowan’s testimony, after being stabbed, Singler folded his arms across his chest and staggered into the apartment. He followed Singler inside.
“I turned to my left, and Tyler was there. I looked at Tyler and he put his hands up and he said ‘Dude, run,’ and I ran,” Connor McCowan said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
The trial is set to continue 8:30 a.m. Friday.