The Ottumwa Courier

November 20, 2013

Defense counsel applies for withdrawal from Techel case

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — In the wake of the second jury mistrial in the Seth Techel murder trial, the defense counsel has filed an application to withdraw as attorneys for the defendant.

Techel is being accused by the State of Iowa of murder in the first degree against his wife, Lisa Techel, and involuntary termination of pregnancy, since she was pregnant at the time of her death.

The case went into a retrial beginning Oct. 30, and the trial lasted until Friday, when the jury in the case ruled they would not come to a verdict after two days of deliberations. Judge Daniel Wilson, who has presided over the trial and retrial, granted a mistrial for the second time Friday.

After the motion for a mistrial was granted, the prosecuting attorneys said they would seek a third trial in the case, and there will be a hearing on Monday, Nov. 25, to discuss where the case goes from here. The hearing will either be in Ottumwa or Monroe County. According to Media Coordinator Andy Grove, the judge is yet to make a decision on the location.

On Monday, Steve Gardner and Robert Box of the law firm of Denefe, Gardner & Zingg, P.C., in Ottumwa, filed an Application to Allow Withdrawal of Counsel with the Wapello County Clerk of Courts Office.

In the application, Gardner and Box cited that due to the economic circumstances of the case and the health circumstances of Gardner, the counsel cannot continue to represent Techel at any further hearings and third jury trial. They will still be defending Techel at the hearing on Monday, however, because the judge has to decide whether or not to grant the withdrawal of the counsel.

The economic circumstances are a result of Techel being incarcerated throughout the case, and the court has previously determined him to be indigent, or poor.

Techel has asked that the court appoint him a counsel to represent him, and has requested that it be made at the State’s expense. It is the defendant’s right under the Iowa and United States constitutions that the State provide a defense if the defendant cannot provide one.

Due to a conflict of interest, the public defender in Wapello County, Allen Cook, is not entitled to represent Techel in the case. Techel has requested a different attorney, Jake Feuerhelm of Feuerhelm Law Office, of Des Moines, to represent him further. The State has the opportunity to grant that request or appoint a different attorney, with either choice coming at their expense.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh