Techel murder case declared mistrial
OTTUMWA (AP) — Prosecutors in the murder case of an Iowa man charged with killing his pregnant wife said Friday they will seek a new trial after a jury failed to reach a verdict.
An Ottumwa jury told Judge Daniel Wilson it was deadlocked Friday in the trial of Seth Techel after four days of deliberations. The judge declared a mistrial.
The Ottumwa Courier reported that Wilson asked the jury foreman Friday morning whether they had reached a verdict and the foreman responded, “no.” When Wilson asked if further deliberations would result in a unanimous verdict, the foreman again answered no.
Wilson declared a mistrial after a defense attorney for Techel made the motion.
Wilson then spoke briefly to the jurors, some in tears, before dismissing them.
Jurors had sent a note to the judge Thursday afternoon and he told them they must keep deliberating the case.
Techel's trial began Feb. 19. He is charged with murder and nonconsensual termination of a human pregnancy in connection with the May 26 death of his wife, Lisa Techel.
Prosecutors said Seth Techel, 22, wanted to end his marriage but feared alienation from his wife's father, a sheriff's deputy.
Techel's lawyer has ridiculed the police investigation and suggested a neighbor may have killed Lisa Techel.
The attorney general's office, which is leading the prosecution, will file for a new trial in 90 days.
“We're disappointed but we appreciate the jury's hard work in what was clearly an anguished deliberation,” said Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. “We will without question seek a retrial.”
Techel will remain in custody.
He left the courtroom without talking to reporters. His family members also did not comment.
Lisa Techel's father, Todd Caldwell, told the newspaper that the family is disappointed but believes justice will be served.
“I feel like we've got a huge family afterwards even more so than when we began. The investigators, the prosecutors and the victim advocates and our family have shed tears over this case, every one of them," he said.
Both Seth and Lisa Techel worked in law enforcement. She was a reserve deputy and he was a jailer.