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
  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Jury begins deliberations DAVENPORT — The fate of a Wapello County man accused of killing his wife is in the hands of a jury in Scott County, which began deliberations Wednesday and will continue deliberating today.The jury began deliberations about 4 p.m. Wednesday in the ca

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Van Buren says bye-bye to Waste Management KEOSAUQUA — Waste Management has been charging the Van Buren Community School District an average of nearly $1,600 a month to remove waste and recycled materials from the Douds and Keosauqua centers. Now faced with a bidding process, Waste Management

    July 23, 2014

  • Pesticide use is not all bad OTTUMWA — When you pick up a grocery ad, it seems like every other page has a produce item stamped USDA Organic, meaning that those items were spared from chemicals including Glyphosate, the most common pesticide in the world. As the Organic Food Mov

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Kitchen Science color photo -L -T Kitchen science sparks curiosity OTTUMWA — A lucky group of children spent Wednesday morning experimenting with kitchen science and creating geysers of foam at the Knights of Columbus hall. The Kitchen Science performance was presented by Waterloo's Grout Museum and is part of the O

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prosecution: All evidence points to Techel as killer DAVENPORT — Just as all roads lead to Rome, so all evidence points to a Wapello County man accused of killing his wife, according to the prosecution. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Prosser, who is prosecuting the case for the third time, said defe

    July 23, 2014

  • Making something of themselves OTTUMWA — Community leaders this week heard how Ottumwa's Job Corps started from nothing yet became successful. But they also heard from students who said they were doing nothing until they found success through Job Corps. "After I dropped out of hig

    July 23, 2014

  • New charges filed in abuse case OTTUMWA — A single charge against a man for sexual abuse has been replaced by a new trial information, and authorities are throwing the book at him. Grant Troxel was initially charged in early June with sexual abuse. But the new list of charges indic

    July 23, 2014

  • 0724 OTT car investigation color photo -L Tip led to Tuesday arrest OTTUMWA — There was more to the incident Tuesday in which officers surrounded a car near U.S. Bank in downtown Ottumwa than just a routine traffic stop. Police Chief Tom McAndrew said Jason Tobek, 36, is in custody and faces charges of interference w

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eldon man gets five year prison term KEOSAUQUA — An Eldon man was sentenced to five years in prison in Van Buren District Court for his role in an October 2012 altercation in Selma, which escalated into shots being fired into the home or Randall Ritz, 11883 Bridge St., Selma. Donald E.

    July 23, 2014

  • Emergency council meeting Friday OTTUMWA — Ottumwa’s City Council will meet for a second time this week, this time to discuss an emergency problem at the city’s Water Pollution Control Facility. The special meeting will be conducted at 1 p.m. Friday in the council chambers. Earlier

    July 23, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook