The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 6, 2013

Defense recalls prosecution witness

OTTUMWA — Open proceedings at Seth Techel's murder trial started late Wednesday, the second consecutive day in which jurors were not brought into court until well after the normal starting time.

The Tuesday delay was planned. Jurors were instructed not to report until 9:30 a.m. to allow time for the court to hear various motions. But Wednesday's delay involved no such notice.

The discussions, while not open to the public, did include a court reporter, which indicates they were on the record. Attorneys were in Judge Daniel Wilson's chambers until 9:50 a.m., well after court normally convenes. Wilson entered about 10 minutes later, and jurors were brought in shortly afterwards.

One juror was dismissed from the case, though it's not clear whether that was related to the discussions in chambers.

Wednesday is the second day for the defense to present its case. Steven Gardner recalled DCI agent Anthony Birmingham to the stand; Birmingham previously testified for the prosecution.

Gardner called Birmingham in part to reframe the interview between Techel and investigators jurors were shown earlier in the case. In that interview the investigator directly accused Techel of being the murderer and said information from other investigators supported it.

The defense contends that accusation was a bluff, that at the time there was no evidence against Techel. Gardner asked Birmingham whether he supplied the information the interrogator used. Birmingham said he spoke with the other agent but did not recall at what point he did so.

Gardner ran into problems when trying to ask Birmingham about what the Techels' neighbor said to investigators. Andy Prosser, one of two prosecutors, objected multiple times, arguing Gardner was seeking answers that could only be hearsay. Wilson sustained most of those objections.

Similar objections were raised when Gardner questioned Birmingham about the neighbor's sleeping habits. "He's not quesstioning him, he's arguing with him," Prosser said. Wilson sustained the objection.

It is unclear whether Techel will take the stand. The decision belongs to the defense. Defendants in a criminal case have a constitutional guarantee against self incrimination, which means they cannot be compelled to testify against themselves.

Testifying could be the best opportunity to convince jurors of his innocence, but putting a defendant on the stand is something no defense attorney does lightly. Anyone on the stand is subject to cross examination, which means Techel would be asked questions by prosecutors. That's a risk.

Defense attorneys will sometimes indicate whether they plan to call the defendant during opening statements by telling jurors they will hear from them. There was no such indication in the opening statements at this trial, but that does not mean the defense is barred from calling Techel.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Resolution — Techel verdict reached

    DAVENPORT — The father of a slain Wapello County woman said he began to heal as soon as he heard the guilty verdict today. The jury unanimously pronounced Seth Techel, 23, guilty on charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a h

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0726 OTT Garden Bites III Color Photo -T Garden Bites sees growth BLOOMFIELD — Nearly one month ago, families gathered at Pioneer Ridge Nature Center to plant various vegetables to harvest and eat on Thursday at Garden Bites. The program allows families to get their hands a bit dirty at Pioneer Ridge and plant food

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0725 OTT Riverfront design A new outlook on Ottumwa OTTUMWA — A "River Renaissance" is brewing in Wapello County. Planners working for Christian Rushing Studio from Tennessee took the public's ideas, and gave them life via maps, numerical projections and artists' renderings. "Hold onto your seats; you

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police to parents: check kids' online activities BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield police chief says the arrests of nine men in connection with sexting a teenage girl underscores the need for parents to keep an eye on their children online. Chief Shawn Armstrong said cases involving one or two people are

    July 24, 2014

  • 0725 OTT birthday rumble -T -M Age 106, still ready to rumble OTTUMWA — With the stories flowing, Celma Birdsall had the ride of her life Thursday. "She shared a lot of memories," said her chauffeur for the day, Dennis Parrish. Birdsall has built up a lot of stories over the 106 years she's been around. After h

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook