OTTUMWA — A new date and venue have been entered in State v. Seth Techel, three months and two counties away.
Defense attorneys Steven Gardner and Robert Box appeared in person in Judge Daniel Wilson's chambers at the Wapello County Courthouse Monday afternoon, while state prosecutors Andy Prosser and Scott Brown and defendant Seth Techel all appeared via telephone.
After suggestions by both parties, Wilson announced he will enter a motion to secure Aug. 12 as the date of retrial, to be held in Mount Pleasant "unless I hear something from court administration that derails that plan."
Prosser suggested Mount Pleasant — county seat of Henry County — as the venue for the retrial as prosecution's "No. 1 pick." The city is approximately one hour east of Ottumwa.
"It's the closest county that takes care of most of the issues we have," Prosser said. "It's also close enough that it won't inconvenience most of the witnesses and families as much as other, more distant potential counties within the district.
"My concern more has been for a location within the district that has good facilities, meaning a big courtroom, space and rooms for meetings, holding witnesses and families and so on."
He also said through recent "article shopping," he found that the trial did not receive as much media coverage in the Mount Pleasant area as it did in Ottumwa and Wapello County.
Prosser said in the archive of Burlington's "The Hawk Eye," only four articles were found concerning the case. "Mt. Pleasant News," Keokuk's "The Daily Gate" and Fort Madison's "Daily Democrat" all had no articles related to the case and the "Washington Evening Journal" had three, Prosser said.
"Publicity has not been widespread in any of the counties under consideration that I can find — certainly nothing like is in the case in Ottumwa," Prosser said.