The Ottumwa Courier

November 1, 2013

Techel friend among Friday witnesses

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — MT. PLEASANT — Through Friday morning of the Seth Techel trial, two witnesses have been called to the stand by the prosecuting attorneys. Techel is accused of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy in the shooting death of his wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel.

The first, Drew Ballard, 22, of Eldon, had an intimate relationship with Rachel McFarland, 23, of Bloomfield, during the same time as Techel. McFarland and Ballard were, according to him, in a two-year relationship and lived together in Eldon when he found emails on their home computer from a man named Rick Jones.

The emails concerned Ballard, because, according to him, there were a lot of them and because of their content. He told McFarland they needed to have a talk, and they did so in February 2012. Prosecutor Andy Prosser showed the emails as evidence.

After Ballard stepped down, Prosser called his next witness, Colten Millard, 22, of Agency. Millard and Techel had been friends since kindergarten, and he had also known Lisa Techel very well before her death. According to Millard, he would go to the Techel residence very often, even as much as three or four times a week, and he did not have a closer friend at the time than Techel.

The two spent a lot of time hunting and fishing and were both very familiar with guns. Their parents taught them at a young age how to use them safely, and Millard acknowledged that there were several guns present at all times at the Techel residence, including Lisa Techel’s handgun.

Millard was a frequent visitor at the Techel home, whether they were present or not. He kept his blue tick hound dog, Duke, in a shed at the residence and spent a lot of time there shooting guns, playing Xbox and watching television.

According to Millard, he was aware of the relationship between Techel and McFarland and of the second phone Techel used to converse with her. Techel told him the phone was for business and showed Millard a picture of McFarland with her shirt off at one point.

Millard and Techel had to do repair work to the shed where Duke was kept, and that is when Millard confronted him about McFarland. They had a conversation about Millard’s feelings about the Techel and McFarland relationship and how he did not approve.

“I told him that he was stupid and he needed to stop,” Millard said. “He knew it was stupid. He shook his head, like ‘I know.’”

He also was asked by defense attorney Steve Gardner whether or not Techel ever talked about the baby the Techels were expecting. According to Millard, Techel seemed excited about the baby, even when he was told it would be a girl.

“He didn’t care what it was;he just wanted it to be healthy,” Millard said.

Gardner asked Millard whether or not Techel seemed upset when he was told the baby would be a girl, to which Millard stated, “He was kind of disappointed; he wanted a boy, but he was still happy.”

On the day of Lisa Techel’s death, Millard was on a fishing trip and had asked Techel to take care of his dog while he was gone. Techel never replied to Millard’s text, but he left the dog with them since that’s where it was kept. When he got the call about the death, he went to the home to get the dog and was met by officers who were already on the scene.

Testimony will continue this afternoon following the noon recess.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh