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February 27, 2013

Techel jury views photos, murder weapon

OTTUMWA — Seth Techel's trial on charges of murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy resumed Wednesday after a one-day weather delay.

The trial has twice been interrupted by snowstorms. Judge Daniel Wilson thanked jurors for putting up with the trial's "somewhat erratic schedule," as the day opened.

The day involved some of the most dramatic evidence yet, as prosecutors brought the shotgun they say Techel used to kill his wife into the courtroom and entered a number of crime scene photos into evidence.

Prosecutors walked criminalist Michael Halverson through crime scene photos taken at the Techel home. Halverson is an investigator with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

The photos included the bedroom and Lisa Techel's body. Her family members sobbed quietly as prosecutors showed the photos.

The photos also showed an access panel behind the bed's headboard that led to the shower in the bathroom. The location is important for both sides. Techel says he was in the shower when Lisa was shot. That was important to prosecutor Andy Prosser.

"Literally if a person was in the shower they would be standing in this position on the other side of the wall ... less than the width of the bed," Prosser said.

Processing the scene took more than a day. Halverson said the search of the vehicles, in which the Tracfone used by Techel to contact McFarland was found, was done on the second day.

That second day also led to discovery of the shotgun used to kill Lisa. Halverson said investigators had not found the gun used in the trailer, nor did they find any shell casings inside.

"We were looking for the gun. We knew she had been shot," he said.

A pair of reserve deputies found the shotgun and summoned others. Photos show the tree by which the gun was found had crime scene attached and a gray "X" painted on it. The gun was in tall grass near the tree. One spent round was in the chamber, while four live rounds were in the magazine.

Prosser brought the gun into court for Halverson to identify and entered it as evidence. Halverson identified it for jurors, along with a single, spent shotgun shell recovered from the gun.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

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