The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 12, 2013

No verdict after first full day of deliberations

OTTUMWA — The number of people at the State v Techel murder trial dropped from a high of nearly 100 on some days to the five or six attendees in the courtroom Tuesday. But Tuesday wasn’t about testimony — it was about waiting.

When the jury still had not announced they had a verdict around 4 p.m., the Judge Daniel Wilson sent an attendant in with a question: Do they want to keep going, or go home for the evening. The lawyers and defendant Seth Techel were present when the jury returned to the jury box where they had spent more than two weeks listening to the evidence.

The judge sent them home just before 5 p.m. They’ll be back Wednesday, with no specific timeline for deliberations other than they’ll start at 9 a.m.

Starting Tuesday morning, family members of the parties, members of the media and even lawyers trying other cases at the Wapello County Courthouse were asking whether there was a verdict yet.

The jury room is guarded by a court attendant. The public is not allowed to go into the room or stay within hearing distance of a normal conversational tone. The attendant also acts as a liaison between the jury and judge, carrying messages and checking on the needs of jurors.

Occasionally, a note would come out asking to look at a certain piece of evidence. Since deliberations are confidential, the judge does not allow the public to know what evidence jurors want to look at.

The prosecutors and the defense team finished their arguments on Monday around 3 p.m.. The judge gave the jury their instructions, then had them escorted to the room that will be their second home until they render a verdict. The judge sent them home around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Attorneys for both the state and the defense told jurors what they should think about in that jury room, and how to come up with the correct verdict.

But the judge’s instructions were both spoken aloud and given to jurors in writing.

“You are judges of the facts,” Wilson told them Monday.

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