Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Community News Network

March 5, 2013

Arguments in Techel trial begin before jurors arrive

OTTUMWA — Jurors got a new piece of evidence Tuesday before they even got into the courtroom.

Prosecutors sought to admit photos of text messages recovered from a TracFone used by Seth Techel to contact Rachel McFarland. Those text messages are important to the prosecution's efforts to establish Techel's relationship with McFarland.

Authorities generally try to download data from cell phones, but that's not always possible. In this case investigators resorted to photographing each text message, one by one. Prosecutors wanted to admit a summary of those messages for jurors to review when they begin deliberations.

Defense attorney Steven Gardner objected, saying the prosecution had failed to establish that the summary was a true representation of the originals and that prosecution witnesses failed to provide a foundation for the document.

Prosecutor Andy Prosser told Judge Daniel Wilson two witnesses, McFarland and a state investigator, testified to the accuracy of the photos. That, he said, satisfies the question of foundation.

The alternative to the summary, Prosser continued, would be a single image per page, resulting in a 590-page document for jurors. That would be clumsy and harder for jurors to use than a summary.

Wilson agreed, admitting the summary.

The discussion was one of several points brought to court before jurors were seated for Tuesday's testimony. Wilson asked jurors to report at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour later than normal, to allow for the arguments.

By asking jurors to report later, Wilson hoped to allow time for the arguments without having the jury sitting around in the jury room for an extended wait. While such steps are outside the routine, they aren't unheard of. Jurors are not generally present while attorneys argue over admission of evidence, so judges occasionally carve out time to handle those arguments before or after the day's testimony.

Gardner also sought to have the judge direct jurors to acquit Techel, saying the evidence fails to support the state's case. It's not as unusual a request as it sounds.

Defense attorneys often ask to have a directed acquittal at the end of the prosecution's case, arguing prosecutors have failed to prove their case. It's a low-risk move with a potentially high payoff. If the defense can get the case thrown out they don't have to risk having evidence or witnesses rejected or the uncertainty of a jury's deliberations.

Gardner argued investigators botched the investigation, failing to examine evidence and cherry-picking details to fit a pre-determined theory. He questioned why investigators failed to discover the murder weapon until the second day of their investigation despite standing feet from it on the day of the murder, and said the state lacked any physical evidence tying Techel to the crime.

Gardner spent considerable time discussing a sandwich found outside the Techel home. The "sandwich defense" argued the investigators should have tested the sandwich and he said failure to do so amounted to "intentional destruction of evidence."

Wilson rejected the motion, saying the elements of both first degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy have been met by the prosecution.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Features
AP Video
Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit Raw: 2 Hurt in NY Trench Collapse House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve 3 People Killed, Deputies Wounded in NC Shootout Suing Obama: GOP-led House Gives the Go-ahead Obama: 'Blood of Africa Runs Through My Veins' Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Air Force: Stowaway Triggers Security Review Minnesota Fire Engulfs Home, Two Garages Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand
Facebook
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Upon completion and reopening of Third Street, should the City of Knoxville wait to start the next stage of the Streetscape and Infrastructure project until 2015?

Yes
No
     View Results