To date, two different juries have been unable to reach a verdict. Defense attorney Steven Gardner of Ottumwa has asked the court to reduce Techel’s bond to 75-thousand dollars and to remove restrictions on his travel and who he can contact. Gardner has also asked to be removed from the case and have the state appoint an attorney.
A hearing is set for next Monday, November 25th, in Monroe County.
UPDATE– Mistrial due to hung jury, granted. Hearing on bond and other pending matters set for Nov. 25 at 1:15 p.m. Prosecution vows to re-try case.
Wednesday, November 13th
The fate of Seth Techel is now in the hands of a Henry County jury made up of six men and six women, as the defense and the prosecution both finished their closing arguments Wednesday in the murder trial in Mount Pleasant.
At the end of the day Wednesday, district judge Daniel Wilson gave the jury its final instructions, dismissed the four jurors that are alternates in the case, and sent the remaining 12 jurors to the jury room. They begin deliberations this morning as they’ll try to do what a Wapello County jury was unable to do earlier this year – reach a unanimous verdict in the case.
Techel is charged with first degree murder and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy in the May 26th 2012 death of his pregnant wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel. Lisa was shot at close range while asleep in her bed in the Techel’s rural Agency home, and the cause of death was a deer slug fired from a Mossberg 12-guage shotgun that was kept in the home.
Iowa assistant Attorney General Andrew Prosser made the closing arguments for the prosecution Wednesday, telling jury that the evidence proves that Seth was the only person who could have committed the crime, and that there was no evidence that anyone else was there at the time. According to Prosser, only Seth had the means, opportunity and motive to fire the shot that killed his wife. He also outlined numerous inconsistencies and blatant deceptions by Seth in interviews with police, and pointed out the absurdities in defense claims that Brian Tate, a neighbor of the Techels, could have committed the crime.
Defense attorney Steven Gardner closed his argument by pointing the finger at Tate, saying Tate was mentally ill and agitated, schizophrenic, and on the wrong medication. Gardner questioned the state’s investigation into the case and pointed out sloppy police work. He walked the jury through a long list of problems with evidence collection, everything from blood to DNA to gunshot residue, and asked if the state was really seeking the truth, or were they just trying to prepare a case for conviction.
On rebuttal, Prosser countered that argument – any police mistakes do not change who killed Lisa Techel, he said.
Tuesday, November 12th
The defense is expected to wrap up its witnesses this morning and both sides could begin closing arguments today at the Seth Techel murder trial at the Henry County Courthouse in Mount Pleasant.
Late Tuesday, the district judge Dan Wilson heard motions from both sides with the jury not present, and more of that could be expected this morning, as the jury was instructed it would not be back into the courtroom until 10 a.m., while court will resume at 9.
With the jury gone Tuesday, defense attorney Steven Gardner offered proof into evidence regarding the weather that weekend, a burglary of the Techel’s rural Agency home on the day of Lisa Caldwell Techel’s funeral, testimony regarded as “hearsay” by the prosecution, and national weather service reports as to the weather on May 26th, 2012, the day Lisa Caldwell Techel was shot to death while sleeping in her bed.
Earlier on Tuesday, the court heard testimony from Seth Techel’s parents, Doug Techel and Lorraine Uehling-Techel, doctors who treated Brian Tate, a neighbor of the Techel’s, and a firearms forensics expert.
DougTechel testified as to his son’s demeanor that day. On the way to the sheriff’s office for questioning, Doug asked Seth if they should get him a lawyer. Seth told his father, no, that he had nothing to hide. Doug said that Seth seemed sincere and did not appear reluctant to talk with law enforcement.
Two physicians who examined Tate after he was brought into Ottumwa Regional Hospital in handcuffs in September of 2012 described Tate as delusional and hallucinating, and a psychiatrist diagnosed Tate as bipolar and manic-depressive and said he had been on the wrong medication for a very long time. The doctor did say, however, that Tate had no history of violence.
Tate has been cited by the defense as a possible suspect in the murder.
Early Tuesday morning, firearms forensics expert John C. Cayton became the second expert witness to say that a gunshot residue analysis test should have been done in the Techel case. In fact, Cayton stated that such a test is routinely done in cases like this one and could have helped determine Seth’s guilt or innocence.
Closing arguments in the trial are expected to begin today.