DAVENPORT — A 12-person jury, along with four alternates, was sworn in late this morning for the Seth Techel trial that continues in Davenport (Scott County).
Techel sat with his defense team that includes court-appointed attorneys Jake Feuerhelm and Roger Owens of Des Moines. Assistant Attorneys General Scott Brown and Andrew Prosser, who have prosecuted the case since its beginning, sat on the other side of the courtroom.
Techel faces charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy after his pregnant wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel, was shot and killed in the couple’s mobile home near Agency in May 2012.
For the third time, Judge Daniel Wilson presides over Techel’s trial. Wilson first was assigned the case in July 2012. Each of the first two trials, in Wapello and Henry counties, ended with a hung jury.
At noon today, Wilson spoke with both the prosecution and defense teams after he excused the jury from the courtroom.
Owens questioned the jury pool earlier today. “Mr. Techel has had charges brought against him. Do you understand that?" he asked the panel, inquiring “How do you prove you’re innocent?” He also asked prospective jurors whether they believe “in the presumption of innocence” and whether the state “has the burden of proof."
“It's not only the evidence presented by the state, it's also the lack of evidence presented by the state,” he said.
Owens also asked jury candidates whether they had experience with shotguns, whether they have military backgrounds and how much they text. “In this case, you’re going to hear a lot about texting,” Owens said.
He referred to the topic of infidelity as “the elephant in this room” and asked the juror pool whether they understand that some instances of infidelity are worse than others, adding that different types of infidelity might include physical, texting and phone.
Once again, Wilson admonished jurors not to talk to each other or anyone else about the case when they were dismissed until they reconvene this afternoon. He also asked jurors to “keep an open mind until you’ve heard all of the evidence.”
Few people were left in the courtroom after the jury was dismissed for its break.
Dateline NBC is covering the trial.