The Ottumwa Courier

February 15, 2013

Techel trial to begin Tuesday

Defense expects trial to last three weeks

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The trial for a rural Agency man accused of murdering his pregnant wife will begin next week.

Seth Techel, 22, was charged with first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy in the death of his wife, Lisa, at their rural Agency home last May.

Lisa Techel was 23 years old and approximately four months pregnant at the time of her death.

Jury selection will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Wapello County Courthouse. District Court Judge Daniel Wilson of Centerville will preside over the case. Seth Techel’s attorney, Steven Gardner, of Ottumwa, said he expects the trial to last approximately three weeks.

Last week, Gardner filed a motion “for the sequestration of witnesses.”

“This is seeking that all witnesses not communicate with each other when they’re not testifying,” Gardner said.

The defense also demanded the in-person testimony of the state medical examiner and state forensic lab technicians.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case since the Wapello County Attorney’s Office said it had a conflict of interest.

Lisa Techel was a reserve deputy sheriff with Wapello County and a correctional officer in Washington County.

Seth Techel was going through the hiring process to become a Wapello County Jail correctional officer, though the hiring had not been finalized.

On May 26, Lisa Techel and her unborn child were killed by a single 12-gauge shotgun slug, according to the affidavit.

Seth Techel told investigators he was in the shower when he heard a loud noise and came out to find his wife in bed suffering from a gunshot wound.

During the investigation, law enforcement found a shotgun in tall grass near the house, which was determined to belong to a former housemate of the Techels. The shotgun had one casing still in the chamber, which appeared to have been fired, as well as four live rounds.

Investigators also discovered a Trac phone in Seth Techel’s vehicle, which they believe was used to carry on an extramarital affair without his wife’s knowledge, according to the affidavit.

Seth Techel initially denied participation in an extra-marital affair and owning any cell phone other than his primary cell phone. He also said he had five firearms in the home but did not include the shotgun found in the grass, which investigators believe was the murder weapon.

A couple of weeks prior to the murder, Seth Techel told the woman with whom he allegedly had an affair that everything would be better in a “couple weeks,” and that he was unhappy in his marriage, according to the affidavit.

The day after the murder, law enforcement released the home back to Seth Techel. Law enforcement then stood in a wooded area near the area where the shotgun was discovered to conduct surveillance.

That night, Seth Techel and his father arrived at the home. According to the affidavit, Seth Techel “appeared to be looking around the area where the Mossberg shotgun had been located.

“This area is an area in which the grass is taller and able to cover an object from detection from law enforcement,” according to the affidavit.

Seth Techel was arrested a few days later immediately following the funeral visitation for his wife.

Investigators said there is no evidence that an intruder or other subject was in the home at the time of the murder other than Seth Techel. They said there were no signs of forced entry and no known items were taken from the residence.

First-degree murder is a Class A felony and carries a life sentence in prison. Non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy, a Class B felony, carries a sentence of up to 25 years.

Seth Techel has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently being held in the Monroe County Jail.