The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

February 20, 2013

Jury selection continues in murder trial

Jury expected to be seated today

OTTUMWA — Jury selection in a Wapello County murder trial continues, though the judge expects the 12 jurors to be seated today.

Seth Techel is accused of murdering his pregnant wife, Lisa, at their Agency home in May 2012. Techel, in dress shirt and tie, sat quietly with his defense attorneys during jury selection Tuesday.

The day started with around 80 prospective jurors in the courtroom.

The court computer randomly chose 37 to be seated. That may sound like a strange number, said Judge Wilson, but attorneys were expected to ask questions in order to eliminate a total of 20 candidates.

Prosecutor Scott Brown with the Iowa Attorney General’s office asked most of the questions in the courtroom Tuesday.

But there was also a period in the afternoon where defense attorneys Robert Box and Steve Gardner joined  the prosecutors in the judge’s office. There they questioned jurors individually. Several were excused. Others who were not part of the 37 were then brought in to boost the number back to 37 potential jurors.

With the candidates released Tuesday morning due to things like medical concerns, family emergencies or non-refundable travel plans, about half the original number of jurors remained by the end of the day.

“Citizen involvement is critical in ... whether our system works,” Wilson told the jury panel.  

Brown compared serving on a jury to military service, though as opposed to a year-long deployment by soldiers, the jurors in this case will serve two, perhaps three weeks.

Wilson expects to finish jury selection today. The jury will include 12 jurors and three alternates. Charges against Techel are murder in the first degree and non-consensual termination of a pregnancy.

Brown summed up the role of the jury: “What we want you to do is listen to the evidence and decide. That’s it.”

His questions to the candidates, he said, are intended to produce 12 impartial jurors who would listen to the evidence presented by both sides.

Some of the questions were basic: Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do outside of work? Candidates usually discussed their job, marital status, children, hobbies.

But he also asked if jurors knew Lisa Techel or her family, the Caldwells. Did anyone know the Techel family?

A few candidates acknowledged their connection to one or the other family would make it very difficult for them to make a decision that would cause that family pain.

Brown also wanted to know if they knew anything at all about the case. Nearly all of the juror pool had heard about the case, either by newspaper, Internet or television.

The prosecutor suggested that the most tedious part of the selection process would be checking for connections to the names of more than 60 prospective witnesses.

Many of the initial names were of law enforcement personnel. Some jurors know the sheriff of Wapello County, Mark Miller, or some of his deputies. Brown asked if interactions with those people were positive or negative — and if the juror had discussed the case with that potential witness.

Some of the other questions asked in jury selection Tuesday:  Have you had any dealings with the Iowa Attorney General’s office? Have you served on a jury before? Did you reach a verdict? When you were on the jury, were there questions you wished the lawyers would ask? When they didn’t ask those questions, did it affect how you thought about the case? Do you know me, Scott Brown, or my colleague, Andrew Prosser? Have you ever been a client of the defense, attorneys Robert Box or Steve Gardner?

Text Only
Local News
  • halo-5-guardians-concept_wallpaper-1920x1080-53cf9b0098ea45ada37dc0f66bc174f5.jpg The Art of Kong

    OTTUMWA — The Mona Lisa. Whistler's Mother. Donkey Kong? Don't be so surprised, said Walter Day, that video games and the surrounding memorabilia are being considered art. The creativity and artistic vision required to create a poster, said the found

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Slideshow: Truck overturns on roundabout

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729 OTT Picture veteran -T -M Veteran finally receives his medals OTTUMWA — A World War II injury may have saved the life of a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Iowa, but he lost friends and a box of military awards. Francis Hardy Harbour was born on Dec.16, 1919, in Drakesville. He joined the Coast Guard in 1941 as a mach

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • IHCC buildings.jpg Grant helps Hills keep students on track

    OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook