The Ottumwa Courier

November 7, 2013

Prosecution rests in Techel retrial

By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer

MT. PLEASANT — Prosecutors wrapped up their case against Seth Techel on Thursday, resting after firearms expert Victor Murillo finished his testimony.

The morning opened with defense attorney Steven Gardner asking about the process of “cycling” a spent shell casing from the shotgun's chamber after firing. Murillo used a dummy shell to demonstrate the process. The gun, which Murillo identified Wednesday as the murder weapon, ejected the shell properly.

That's an important point for both sides. The gun was locked with a spent shell still inside the chamber when it was found the day after Lisa Techel was killed. The defense says that indicates the killer's lack of familiarity with the gun. Techel was familiar with it.

The defense also questioned whether the gun could have left a bruise on the shooter's shoulder. Murillo did not test whether it would have done so.

When Gardner asked about residue testing, Murillo said his office does not routinely carry out analysis of clothing for gunshot residue. It's not present in every case, he said. Residue on a shooter's clothing is most commonly associated with use of handguns. If there's not a pattern from the gunpowder, there's not a lot his office can analyze.

“A lot of it has to do with the circumstances of a shooting,” he said.

Murillo testified he gave evidence in “several hundred” cases about the reliability of gunshot residue testing. The test was mentioned during Techel's questioning, but never was carried out.

Prosecutors asked Murillo whether the nuances of the testing helped persuade his office to cease the testing. He said that was part of the issue. There other agencies had “so many questions, so many unanswered questions, that's one of the reasons we stopped doing it.”

Murillo was the final witness for the prosecution. The defense sought a verdict of not guilty after he testified. Judge Daniel Wilson rejected the motion, ruling prosecutors had presented enough evidence to continue the trial.