By MATT MILNER
Courier staff writer
MT. PLEASANT — Jurors started Wednesday basically the way they ended Tuesday, watching investigators question Seth Techel on video about his wife's death.
But the tone of Wednesday's recordings shifted. While things were calm in earlier videos, even as Techel described conflicts with a neighbor, it was clear as the video continued that Techel was the investigator's top suspect.
The discussion became confrontational as DCR Agent Chris Thomas began questioning Techel's account. Thomas said the evidence didn't match what Techel described happening. When pressed about his relationship with Rachel McFarland, Techel said he never cheated on Lisa.
“This is something I didn't want to talk about,” he said.
Techel took exception to the questioning as it progressed, saying it “sucks” that he was treated as a suspect, “when I'm the one who lost someone.”
Thomas said investigators needed honest answers if they were going to be able to solve the murder. Withholding information, like the relationship with McFarland, didn't help.
“I want the truth of what happened,” he said.
Techel conceded McFarland “was under the impression,” he was going to leave Lisa, but said he had no plans to do so. “This doesn't look good,” he said.
Thomas left the room after questioning Techel at length about the relationship with McFarland. He directly accused Techel of the murder when he returned, saying he got a call from the crime lab and the facts pointed to Techel.
Techel was emphatic in his response.
“No way. I didn't kill my wife,” Techel said, his voice rising. “I didn't do it. What facts do you have?”
Thomas told Techel the facts said differently. He encouraged Techel to tell the truth.
“This is your opportunity. This doesn't come along a lot,” he said.
Techel didn't budge.
“I told you my story,” he said.
“That's not true,” Thomas replied.
“Yes, it is,” Techel shot back.
Thomas said Techel's earlier statement didn't match the evidence. He wasn't up front about the relationship with McFarland. He spun stories about his neighbor. The “facts don't change,” he said, but Techel's story didn't add up.
Techel ended the questioning by walking out after repeatedly denying the murder.
Thomas returned to the stand following the video. Defense attorney Steven Gardner said Thomas was the one being misleading, not Techel. He asked about the gunshot residue test Thomas suggested during the interview but did not administer, attacking Thomas' lack of training in the test.
“You don't even know what laboratory they recommend those kits be sent to,” Gardner said.
Thomas conceded he was not specifically trained in the tests or how samples were tested.
Gardner stayed focused on what physical evidence investigators collected. He asked whether anyone had inventoried what Techel was wearing. He asked if skin or fingernail samples were taken. The answer was no.
“Any other physical evidence that I don't know about?” Gardner asked.
Thomas said there was not.
Were there any other witnesses telling different accounts of the murder, as Thomas suggested? No, Thomas said.
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