The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 8, 2013

Nine witnesses testify Friday in Techel trial

MT. PLEASANT — Nine more witnesses were called to the stand by the defense council Friday in the Seth Techel murder trial, one of whom was questioned without the presence of the jury.

The last witness of the day, Michael Holcomb, a volunteer fire chief who was one of the first responders to the death of Brian Tate, was brought to the stand after Judge Daniel Wilson sent the jury home for the weekend.

Holcomb’s testimony was new evidence for the defense and therefore could not be heard by the jury until it was accepted by the judge.

On Sept. 30, 2012, Holcomb was called to the home of Tate, who was the neighbor of the Techels, for, “an unresponsive male … possibly deceased in the basement,” he stated.

Tate’s mother, Mary Lou Tate, told Holcomb on the scene that her son was having medicine adjusted at the time and doctors told him to start writing his thoughts down on paper. That is when Holcomb noticed several pieces of paper taped on walls and a hallway mirror with definitions for words like “compassion” and “hermit.”

Mary Lou Tate also told Holcomb about her son’s discharge from the Army because of his apparent schizophrenia and other mental health issues.

This testimony is very important to the defense case. Defense Attorney Steve Gardner is pointing to Tate as more of a probable suspect than Techel. Tate and Techel had several disputes, including over a deer hide that was found in a barrel at the Techel residence. Citing Tate’s mental instability when he was alive is a key piece to the defense case.

Chief Deputy Don Phillips of the Wapello County Sheriff’s Department continued his testimony from Thursday to begin the day. On May 30, 2012, four days after the death of Lisa Techel, Phillips interviewed Tate at his home, including in the basement where Tate was later found deceased.

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