The Ottumwa Courier

November 5, 2013

Recordings featured at Techel trial

By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer

MT. PLEASANT — Jurors heard Seth Techel's account of events the morning his wife was killed, but Techel wasn't on the stand.

Deputy Jeff Layton questioned Techel the morning Lisa was killed. Prosecutors played the audio from that interview, as well as video of Techel talking with a state investigator, during Tuesday's proceedings..

Techel told Layton he had been in the shower “five or 10 minutes” when he heard a shot. He didn't immediately realize what it was.

When Techel left the shower, he saw Lisa laying in the bed. She was breathing at the time.

“Instead of starting CPR I ran down the hallway. He wasn't in the house. The door, whatever side that is … was wide open. I ran outside,” he said.

Techel didn't see anything. When h went back in, Lisa was no longer breathing.

Techel said in the interview he heard a noise in the trailer's living room. That was what prompted him to leave the bedroom and go outside.

“I ran down the hallway as fast as I could, trying to catch whoever was leaving my house,” he said.

Layton was one of three deputies sent to the scene early on, along with Mark Miller, who is now Wapello County Sheriff, and Marty Wonderlin. Wonderlin testified earlier in the trial about how he and Layton set up police tape to secure the area around the trailer.

Photographs taken by Layton were a focus for the defense. Layton took detailed photos of the bathroom where Techel says he was showering. Layton confirmed the carpet just outside the shower stall and a green towel on the floor were both damp.

Defense attorney Steven Gardner also questioned Layton about Brian Tate. The defense has told jurors Tate is a more reasonable suspect than Techel.

Tate was the subject of an internal memo. Under questioning, Layton said the memo raised concerns about Tate's mental health. It also cited Todd Caldwell's concerns that Tate, “could be the next Krier,” a reference to a shooting incident in Keokuk County where a suspect killed a deputy.

Caldwell, father of Lisa Techel, testified Monday.

The second interview involved Special Agent Chris Thomas. That interview was videotaped. Jurors had transcripts of the interview, but most also watched the video.

Techel told Thomas he didn't immediately connect the noise outside the shower to a gunshot. When he went in, he pulled the sheets back from Lisa and “saw a hole in her sports bra.”

Techel said he shook her shoulder and Lisa, “just moaned a little.” He went outside to look for the shooter, and she was no longer breathing by the time he returned.

Most of Techel's description was calm. His voice broke occasionally, but that was the exception for the first half-hour or so. He became more emotional after describing his actions.

“Why couldn't I do something to save the woman I love? The woman I married?” he said.