The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 15, 2013

Objections from Techel defense refuted by state

OTTUMWA — State prosecutors argued against claims made by Seth Techel's attorney, asserting they either had no basis or had already been ruled upon.

Defense attorney Steven Gardner filed five motions last week, seeking to: ban law enforcement from carrying weapons and providing security in the courtroom; formally admonish state prosecutors; request a second change of venue for the retrial; ban law enforcement witnesses from using social media to influence the jury; and change the presiding judge due to alleged prejudice.

In March, a Wapello County jury found itself deadlocked after a month-long trial of Techel's case. Techel, 22, is charged with first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy in the shooting death of his wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel, and their unborn child at their rural Agency home in May 2012.

State prosecutors Andy Prosser and Scott Brown responded to Gardner's motions on Friday, refuting all of his claims.

In regards to law enforcement carrying weapons and providing security, the state said the court had already ruled on this motion, therefore a change in the initial ruling was unnecessary.

According to the defense's motion in limine to formally admonish the state, Gardner said the state filed a motion in limine prior to the first trial prohibiting the defense from mentioning the death of Brian Tate (a neighbor of the Techels that the defense suggested could have been responsible for Lisa's death), saying it was "without evidentiary support and prejudicial to the state." But Gardner said the state contradicted itself by then mentioning Tate's death during closing arguments.

"No order in limine was filed by the court in the first trial of this matter, despite motions requesting the entry of the same by both parties," state prosecutors wrote. "... the state does not resist the entry of an order in limine preventing the state from making such arguments without first bringing the issue up with the court outside the presence of the jury."

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