The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 7, 2013

Techel attorney files objections on retrial venue, judicial prejudice

OTTUMWA — The selection of Henry County as the location of Seth Techel's retrial is being challenged by the defense.

Techel's attorney has accused prosecutors of forum shopping in asking for the retrial in Henry County, and has made claims of prejudice by the judge overseeing the case and inappropriate use of social media by state witnesses.

In March, a Wapello County jury found itself deadlocked after a month-long trial of Techel's case. Techel, 22, is charged with first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy in the shooting death of his wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel, and their unborn child at their rural Agency home in May 2012.

Techel's attorney, Steven Gardner, filed several motions last week, including claiming that moving the retrial to Henry County in August was an inappropriate choice.

"The pretrial publicity and news causing it unfair and inappropriate for a trial to be held in Wapello County is equally applicable to the venue of Henry County, and Henry County is therefore an inappropriate place for venue of retrial herein," Gardner wrote in the motion.

He wrote that state prosecutors Andy Prosser and Scott Brown conducted "forum shopping," alleging that they knew Techel would be unable to obtain a fair trial in Henry County.

He also filed an objection to state witnesses carrying weapons and providing security.

"During the first trial ... the court allowed state witnesses to carry loaded firearms during testimony and provide security during trial, both in the Wapello County Courthouse and in the courtroom," Gardner wrote, referencing Wapello County Sheriff's deputies and reserve officers who both testified and provided security outside the courtroom. "To allow state witnesses to carry loaded weapons and provide courthouse security is improper and results in prejudice to [Techel] as well as deny his right to a fair and impartial jury trial and due process of law."

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