The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 8, 2013

Jury will get Techel case Monday



Possible glitches in sheriff dispatch software, computers

Friday afternoon, Wapello County Sheriff 9-1-1 dispatcher Thomas Millikin took the stand to, in essence, describe what the computer system the dispatchers use as he did Thursday morning, except this time he spoke in front of the jury.

Millikin analyzed five photos of the dispatch area and the computers and monitors used to receive 9-1-1 calls, radio traffic and general incoming and outgoing phone calls.

The discrepancy was found in differences in durations of the two separate 9-1-1 calls Techel placed to dispatch the morning of the murder. The first call was placed at 5:23 a.m., though one computer shows it lasted 4 minutes, 35 seconds and the other shows it lasted 1 minute 42 seconds. The second call was placed at 5:28 a.m., one computer showing it lasting 1 minute, 33 seconds, the other showing it lasted 1 minute, 42 seconds.

The fifth photo showed an outgoing phone call from the dispatch center to Techel's land line at 5:30 a.m., which lasted 2 minutes, 20 seconds. It also showed a second call made at 5:33 a.m., which lasted approximately 3 minutes, Millikin said, though no receiving phone number was listed.

Box asked why the phone calls could have been split or divided, if that error would be technical or human and why the durations of the 9-1-1 calls would have differed between the two monitors. Millikin did not know, though when Brown asked if the two separate entries of outgoing phone calls were all one call, Millikin said they were.

"In my time as a dispatcher, I've often had to review calls and noticed this has happened with calls before. It happens all the time," Millikin said of the call split into two entries. "I can only guess it's the computer itself splitting it ... but I don't know for certain, no."

Jail Administrator Jeremy Weller also took the stand on Friday.

The morning of May 26, Weller said Phillips asked him for copies of recordings of the radio traffic and 9-1-1 calls from the early morning. Weller said on June 5 he also made a copy of the outgoing phone call to Techel's land line from May 26.

"Nobody specifically asked me to make a copy, I just downloaded it," he said of the outgoing phone call. "I stored it on the computer in my office into a file where I kept a lot of recordings and stuff for this trial."

Box asked Weller if he had ever given the recording of the outgoing call to deputy Phillips. Weller said he didn't recall ever doing that, though he did give Phillips the recordings of the 9-1-1 calls to Phillips the morning of the murder.

Again this week, Weller was subpoenaed to make copies of the outgoing calls for the purposes of the trial.

Weller said that as far as he knows, he "may have been the only one who knew about these calls until Tuesday."

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