Lisa Techel's family reacts after deadlocked jury results in a mistrial
After nearly three weeks of testimony and four days of jury deliberation, the jury in the first-degree murder trial of Seth Techel failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
Judge Dan Wilson asked the appointed head juror if he thought it likely the jury would reach a unanimous decision if deliberations were to continue. The answer was no.
Judge Wilson then thanked the jury for their work and discharged them from service around 11 a.m. on Friday, officially declaring a mistrial.
"Of course we're disappointed in what happened, but I think the whole family is confident, moving forward, that justice will be served.," said Todd Caldwell, Lisa's father, after court was dismissed.
Judge Wilson did not ask the jury how their vote broke down, but after a lengthy trial and four days of deliberation, the end result is difficult to swallow, even for the jurors. Much of the jury looked physically and emotionally exhausted, many of them crying, as the deadlock was discussed.
"They worked extremely hard and we thank them, we know it was difficult for them and unfortunately, they weren't able to reach a unanimous decision, sometimes that happens," said prosecutor Andrew Prosser, Assistant Attorney General.
Throughout court proceedings, prosecutors knew that their case relied on circumstantial evidence, though they believed throughout the case that that evidence made it clear that Seth Techel and only Seth Techel could have shot and killed his pregnant wife in the early morning hours of May 26, 2012.
For its part, the defense did everything it could to show that the investigation, led by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, was incomplete and that evidence showed that the Techel's neighbor, Brian Tate, was the one who shot and killed Lisa that morning.
And while at least one of the jurors seemed to believe that, the Caldwell family does not.
"We also want to address Brian Tate's family and let them know that we in no way believe he was involved in Lisa's murder," Todd Caldwell said in a written statement on behalf of Lisa's family. "We hope to meet with his family soon."
This process has required strength and courage from all those involved. For Doug Caldwell, his courage came from a small coin he kept in his pocket, with Lisa's badge number on it. He says he'll keep it nearby when they go through this all over again.
"We talk about stories of Lisa and that always makes everything better, but it's hard to know that it's out of your control and you've just got to just leave it to other people," Caldwell said.
The last four weeks have been hard on the entirety of Lisa's family.
"For us, this is horrible, but I think for us too, is watching our other children go through this too and feeling that sense of you can't fix it," said Tracy Caldwell, Lisa's mother. "As a parent, you want to fix their pain and so I think for our other kids, it's hard to sit there and watch them. We deal with our pain, because we're the parents, but we're supposed to fix the booboo's, so that's hard for us."
Through the emotions in the courtroom on Friday, it was important to the Caldwell family that Lisa not be forgotten.
"I think that she's a fun-loving, happy person and it would be like Lisa to not want a little attention, so the fact that it's carrying on has something to do with her because she's not ready to lose the focus," Todd said. "But she's a great person."
"Wonderful girl," Tracy added. "Wonderful."
Prosser said he will without a doubt re-file on the same charges and re-try the case, which typically happens within 90 days, depending on scheduling.
Defense attorney Steven Gardner was not present at the Wapello County Courthouse Friday and the Techel family declined to comment.
For now, Seth will continue to be held in the Monroe County Jail.