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February 25, 2013

Techel murder trial resumes in Ottumwa

OTTUMWA — The trial of Seth Techel on charges of murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy continued Monday morning. Techel is accused of killing his wife, Lisa, at their home in May 2012.

Defense Attorney Steven Gardner began the morning's proceedings with his cross examination of Deputy Marty Wonderlin. Gardner pressed Wonderlin about a gap of "five to 10 minutes" in the audio in the dashboard video from Wonderlin's patrol car.

"Did you turn off the audio or was there a malfunction? Do you know why there was no audio?" he asked

"Sometimes really loud noise will punch out the sound," Wonderlin said. "Also if I'm, I don't know the exact distance, too far away from my patrol car it won't transmit any audio back."

Wonderlin also said under questioning that he did destroy notes he made after filing his initial report.

"Is it customary for you to destroy your notes in the course of a murder investigation?" asked Gardner

"In any investigation," Wonderlin replied.

Wonderlin called Doug Techel, Seth's father, to the scene that morning. (Disclosure: Doug Techel is the Courier's circulation director.) He said he called him because, "he needed to be there for Seth."

Prosecutor Scott Brown picked up that in his redirect questioning, asking whether Wonderlin called Doug Techel on his own or if he was asked to do so. Seth Techel requested the call, Wonderlin said.

Brown asked whether Seth and Doug Techel were ever alone following Doug's arrival. Wonderlin said they were allowed to talk privately.

Techel's reactions that morning were briefly the subject of the redirect questioning, when prosecutors asked whether he ever stopped crying. Wonderlin said Techel stopped every time the deputy was on the phone.

After Wonderlin finished, prosecutors questioned Tony Birmingham, a state DCI investigator, about Techel's cell phones. Techel's "real" phone, as Birmingham called it, was found in his bedroom. A Tracfone, a type of pre-paid cell phone, was found later in Techel's vehicle.

Prosecutors said in their opening arguments that Techel used the Tracfone to hide his relationship from a co-worker from his wife. Birmingham said every one of the phone's text messages were sent to a cell phone owned by the woman Techel was seeing.

 

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