Judge declares mistrial in Iowa slaying case
MOUNT PLEASANT (AP) — For the second time, a judge Friday declared a mistrial in the case of a former Iowa jail guard charged in the shooting death of his pregnant wife.
Prosecutors vowed to retry the case.
Judge Daniel Wilson granted the defense’s motion for a mistrial after the Henry County jury of six men and six women said they were deadlocked and couldn’t reach a verdict in the trial of Seth Techel.
“I want to thank all of you and each of you for your service in this long and very difficult case,” Wilson told the jury.
Techel, 23, is charged with first-degree murder and nonconsensual termination of a human pregnancy in the May 2012 death of his wife, Lisa Techel, and their unborn child. Lisa Techel was 23 years old and five months pregnant when she was found shot in the couple’s Agency trailer in southeast Iowa.
The jury had been deadlocked for hours Friday. After two notes to Wilson that further deliberations wouldn’t lead to a verdict, he instructed them to continue trying. Lisa Techel’s family hugged each other and let out sighs of relief at the judge’s instructions, a reaction that was criticized by the defense.
“You have to control your emotions in this case,” Wilson said, adding that observers should leave the courtroom if they’re going to have such outbursts.
Jurors later told Wilson for a third time that they could not reach a verdict. The defense then requested the mistrial, and the prosecution did not take a position.
Techel’s first trial ended in a mistrial in March after another jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The retrial was moved from Ottumwa in Wapello County to Mount Pleasant in Henry County because of excessive media coverage.
Prosecutors argued during the second trial that Seth Techel was the only person in the trailer at the time of Lisa Techel’s death. They also said he wanted to kill his wife to be with another woman who he was romantically involved with.
Defense attorneys said law enforcement officials were sloppy with the collection of evidence, and nothing directly linked Seth Techel to the crime. They also said a former neighbor, who is now deceased, was a better suspect because of his troubled past with Seth Techel involving vandalism
A bond hearing where the case will be further discussed has been scheduled for Nov. 25 at the Wapello County Courthouse.