The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 8, 2013

Jury will get Techel case Monday

OTTUMWA — Both the defense and prosecution have rested in the Seth Techel trial.

Techel, 22, is charged with first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy in the death of his wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel, and their unborn child, on May 26, 2012 at their home in rural Agency.

The defense, represented by attorneys Steven Gardner and Robert Box, called their final witnesses on Friday: Wapello County Sheriff Chief Deputy Don Phillips; the neighbor of the Techels and Brian Tate, Rodney Stevens; Wapello County Sheriff Deputy Marty Wonderlin; Wapello County Sheriff reserve deputy and 9-1-1 dispatcher Thomas Millikin; and Jail Administrator Jeremy Weller.

Jurors heard an audio recording of an interview between Wapello County Sheriff deputies and Brian Tate and his mother, Mary Lou Tate; radio traffic between Wonderlin and 9-1-1 dispatcher Ray Schafer on his way to the murder scene; and calls from Schafer to Techel immediately following the murder.

The recording is the most extensive communications the jury has heard involving Tate, who has died in the months since the murder. It took place four days after Lisa Techel's death.

In the recording, the deputies asked Tate what he was doing the night before and the morning of Lisa's murder. He said he had gone to bed around 8 p.m. May 25, as did his mother and brother, Kreg.

Tate told the deputies he had not heard about a murder until Stevens called him shortly after he woke up at 11 a.m. May 26, around five hours after the murder.

"He said somebody had heard on the scanner that there was a possibility of a 20-year-old pregnant woman who got murdered at 8523," he said on the recording.

Tate walked down the road in both directions and didn't see an 8523 address. Eventually, Mary Lou stepped out of the house and saw the yellow tape at the Techel residence, 8723 Fox Hills Road.

Tate told the deputies that the sheriff's department had done little to help him with the vandalism his house had experienced.

"I felt if you guys maybe would've been more present out in this area, maybe this wouldn't have happened, you know what I mean. That's my own opinion," he said.

The deputies asked Tate if the Techels had any firearms, which he said he believed they did. "There's a lot of shooting going on around here," Tate said. "It ain't as quiet and peaceful as it is in Agency."

He also insisted that he was not a troublemaker and checking with neighbors would confirm that.

The deputies asked Tate what guns he owned. He listed them and eventually took the deputies down to his bedroom in the basement to show them the firearms, which he said ranged from a BB or pellet gun up to a high-powered rifle.

"I don't trust people anymore," Tate said, who also said his guns are for "defensive purposes only."

Tate showed them a range of firearms and his gun cabinet.

"I keep them right there ... where I can bail out of bed and be right down here if someone starts shooting at me," Tate said.

Phillips asked Tate if he had anything to do with Lisa's death.

"No, I didn't," Tate said.

He also asked the deputies if they had "found the weapon yet."

"It makes me nervous you thinking I'm a suspect," Tate said, though Phillips reassured him he wasn't the first person they had asked. "If I'd sworn on a stack of Bibles in the courtroom, I would say I didn't do it ... because I was in bed asleep the night it happened. ...I hope you find out 'cause it'd put my mind at ease if you find whoever done it."

As the deputies walked back out to their vehicle, Tate could be heard in the background yelling after them, "Good luck, guys!"

Phillips and Wonderlin also testified about their experience at the Tate home on May 30.

Prosser asked Phillips if the 12-gauge shotgun shells seen in Brian's bedroom were similar to the ammunition found at the Techel residence.

"They were the same brand and same color, but Deputy Wonderlin advised me that the markings on the outside were faded ... compared to that found in the shotgun at the Techel residence," Phillips said.

Gardner asked Phillips if Tate seemed paranoid. Yes, he did, Phillips said.

Phillips also said that he only learned this week that there was a phone call made from Schafer to Techel the morning of the murder.

Before the jury arrived on Friday, Stevens testified about past communication he had had with Tate. The defense has suggested throughout the trial that Tate, a neighbor of the Techel home, could be Lisa's killer. On Sept. 30, Mary Lou Tate found her son Brian dead in his bed.

Stevens said Tate had told him the sheriff's department was not cooperating with him after his property had been vandalized multiple times.

"...[Brian] said he'd been staying out in the garage trying to catch them," Stevens said.

But in a phone call in spring 2012 (before Lisa's murder), Stevens tried to return a phone call from Brian and instead spoke with his mother, who told Stevens that Brian was agitated and had been staying up all night.

"She said that it'd be better to not contact [Brian] so maybe he could calm down," Stevens said.

While prosecutor Scott Brown said Stevens' testimony was "hearsay and irrelevant," Wilson granted the defense's request for Stevens to testify in front of the jury.

Stevens told jurors that three weeks before Lisa's murder Tate asked him for help "in the area of security" and told him he was "staying out in the garage trying to catch some people that were doing things to the property."

When he called back, he spoke instead with Mary Lou, who said "Brian was not sleeping at night, was staying in the garage and she had mentioned something about his medication, but I don't recall exactly what it was," Stevens said. "She said it would be better if I left him alone and not to contact him 'cause she was trying to keep him from getting stirred up."

The day of the murder, 9-1-1 dispatcher Ray Schafer took all calls related to Lisa's death.

The court listened to radio traffic between dispatch and Wonderlin the morning of the murder, which first reported a "lady not breathing," then later "advise that  lady has been shot."

At some point in the radio traffic recording, Wonderlin asked the dispatcher to call deputy Todd Caldwell, Lisa's father. Why would you ask the dispatcher to have Caldwell get out there? Gardner asked.

"At that point I hadn't seen the gunshot and in my mind I was hoping she hadn't been shot and was maybe we were still just dealing with Lisa wasn't breathing," Wonderlin said. "I felt like he [Caldwell] should be there."

The court also listened to the recording of the call Schafer made to Techel's land line the morning of Lisa's murder.

Amidst Techel crying, the court could hear him yelling, "She's been [expletive] shot!" and telling Schafer that he had been taking a shower to get ready for work while Lisa was sleeping in bed.

"I don't know what to do..." Techel said in tears.

In the second call from Schafer to Techel's land line, Schafer asked Techel if he was having problems with anybody.

"Yeah, we have," Techel said, still crying. "He shot her!"

The trial will conclude next week with closing arguments, jury deliberations and the final verdict.

Wilson and the attorneys discussed jury instructions after jurors were dismissed, which will be finalized over the weekend and presented Monday morning.

Gardner renewed his motion that the court enter a judgment to acquit Techel on the two charges against him. The motion was overruled.

Closing arguments begin at 9 a.m. Monday.

Text Only
Local News
  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carrying bookbags a balancing act OTTUMWA — Permission slips. Notes from teachers. School activity announcements, birthday invitations, report cards and homework to sign. Kids bring home a lot of stuff. But is it done fairly? The school board this week was asked by ranking members of

    April 16, 2014

  • Van Buren supervisors deny hog confinement permit application KEOSAUQUA — A proposed swine building in Chequest Township didn’t receive a seal of approval from Van Buren County Board of Supervisors. Supervisors voted Monday to recommend to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to deny the permit. Supervisor

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Beth Howard bw cover -L -T -M 'Ms. American Pie' tours with her new book ELDON — With many hours and countless miles on her RV "The Beast," Eldon's pie lady, Beth Howard, is celebrating the release of her new book with a tour of southwestern states. Howard's second book, "Ms. American Pie: Buttery Good Pie Recipes and Bol

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Van Buren to share FFA with Harmony KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board approved a recommendation from its administration to share the ag program with Harmony for the 2014-15 school year. The decision means that Van Buren students would travel to Harmony to receive ag instruct

    April 16, 2014

  • Attorney withdraws after client disappears OTTUMWA — Authorities are still looking for an Ottumwa man who didn’t show up for court proceedings. When they find him, he’ll need a new attorney. Jacob Nordyke faces charges of interference with official acts and possession of drug paraphernalia. H

    April 16, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition