The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

February 20, 2013

Jury selection continues in murder trial

Jury expected to be seated today

OTTUMWA — Jury selection in a Wapello County murder trial continues, though the judge expects the 12 jurors to be seated today.

Seth Techel is accused of murdering his pregnant wife, Lisa, at their Agency home in May 2012. Techel, in dress shirt and tie, sat quietly with his defense attorneys during jury selection Tuesday.

The day started with around 80 prospective jurors in the courtroom.

The court computer randomly chose 37 to be seated. That may sound like a strange number, said Judge Wilson, but attorneys were expected to ask questions in order to eliminate a total of 20 candidates.

Prosecutor Scott Brown with the Iowa Attorney General’s office asked most of the questions in the courtroom Tuesday.

But there was also a period in the afternoon where defense attorneys Robert Box and Steve Gardner joined  the prosecutors in the judge’s office. There they questioned jurors individually. Several were excused. Others who were not part of the 37 were then brought in to boost the number back to 37 potential jurors.

With the candidates released Tuesday morning due to things like medical concerns, family emergencies or non-refundable travel plans, about half the original number of jurors remained by the end of the day.

“Citizen involvement is critical in ... whether our system works,” Wilson told the jury panel.  

Brown compared serving on a jury to military service, though as opposed to a year-long deployment by soldiers, the jurors in this case will serve two, perhaps three weeks.

Wilson expects to finish jury selection today. The jury will include 12 jurors and three alternates. Charges against Techel are murder in the first degree and non-consensual termination of a pregnancy.

Brown summed up the role of the jury: “What we want you to do is listen to the evidence and decide. That’s it.”

His questions to the candidates, he said, are intended to produce 12 impartial jurors who would listen to the evidence presented by both sides.

Some of the questions were basic: Tell me about yourself. What do you like to do outside of work? Candidates usually discussed their job, marital status, children, hobbies.

But he also asked if jurors knew Lisa Techel or her family, the Caldwells. Did anyone know the Techel family?

A few candidates acknowledged their connection to one or the other family would make it very difficult for them to make a decision that would cause that family pain.

Brown also wanted to know if they knew anything at all about the case. Nearly all of the juror pool had heard about the case, either by newspaper, Internet or television.

The prosecutor suggested that the most tedious part of the selection process would be checking for connections to the names of more than 60 prospective witnesses.

Many of the initial names were of law enforcement personnel. Some jurors know the sheriff of Wapello County, Mark Miller, or some of his deputies. Brown asked if interactions with those people were positive or negative — and if the juror had discussed the case with that potential witness.

Some of the other questions asked in jury selection Tuesday:  Have you had any dealings with the Iowa Attorney General’s office? Have you served on a jury before? Did you reach a verdict? When you were on the jury, were there questions you wished the lawyers would ask? When they didn’t ask those questions, did it affect how you thought about the case? Do you know me, Scott Brown, or my colleague, Andrew Prosser? Have you ever been a client of the defense, attorneys Robert Box or Steve Gardner?

Text Only
Ottumwa
  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth

    OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National