Victimâ??s father testifies during third day of Techel trial
One of the biggest problems for the prosecution's case against Seth Techel reared its head Thursday morning in Davenport.
DCI investigators failed to fingerprint the shotgun shell that killed Lisa Techel.
Prosecutors have twice had to make this admission in front of jurors, so the state didn't wait for the defense to bring it up.
DCI agent Mike Havlerson admitted the error on direct examination. Halverson told jurors that the failure to fingerprint the shell was simply an oversight.
The defense wasn't prepared to let that mistake go so easily.
Defense attorney Jake Feuerhelm hammered on the mistake during his cross of Havlerson and the veteran agent insisted he attempted to rectify the mistake.
"Actually I requested that it be done after I was informed that it was not tested, but that was not allowed by counsel or the attorneys,â?? said Halverson.
Later a DCI fingerprint expert testified it was unlikely a fingerprint would have survived on a fired shell.
Feuerhelm's cross also brought out a line of questioning familiar to anyone who followed the first two trials.
Feuerhelm asked Halverson why he didn't collect a sandwich in a baggy laying on the Techel's porch.
In the first two trials, Defense Attorney Steve Gardner repeatedly brought up the failure to collect that peanut butter sandwich. The defenseâ??s implication is that the killer may have left the sandwich behind.
The state has always maintained that suggestion is ridiculous.
Later, Seth Techel's voice took over the Scott County courtroom as the state continued to present its case.
Prosecutors called veteran Wapello County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Layton to the stand.
Layton conducted the initial interview with Techel following the shooting death of his wife, Lisa Techel.
Layton told jurors that initially he didn't suspect Techel was responsible for the death of his wife, but that started to change by the time he interviewed Techel in his squad car within an hour of arriving on scene.
Prosecutors played the tape of that interview for jurors.
During the 45-minute interview, Techel's voice bounces back and forth from being completely calm to apparently distraught.
Layton repeatedly asked him to recount the events of that morning, and after further prompting, Techel mentioned his now-deceased neighbor, Brian Tate, might be responsible for the murder.
That same line of thought was shared as Todd Caldwell took the stand to testify against his son-in-law.
The Wapello County Sheriff's Deputy told jurors about rushing to the scene of his daughterâ??s murder on the morning of May 26, 2012.
Caldwell was heard on tape in earlier testimony indicating he thought the Techel's neighbor Brian Tate was responsible.
He testified it never occurred to him that morning that man he loved like a son might have killed his daughter.
Caldwell then took jurors through the series of conversations he had with both Seth and Brian Tate as their neighborhood squabble escalated.
According to Caldwell, Seth clearly lied about his part in the vandalism at Tate's home, but the most poignant moment was when Caldwell stopped talking like a deputy sheriff and spoke to jurors as a father.
"I have never talked to anyone who didn't love her. You know, I've seen a lot of pictures since she died that I didn't even know existed from friends and it always has Lisa in the background make a face or something I like those pictures more than I do the ones that were set up, I know that's the real Lisa,â?? said Caldwell.
Finally, Jurors spent most of the afternoon watching the tape of the interview DCI agent Chris Thomas conducted with Techel.
The court only had time to play part of the five hour interview, but during the first part of the interview Thomas plays it friendly with Techel.
The agent continually expresses sympathy for Techel as he tries to get his version of events.
The jury will see a marked difference in tone from both Thomas and Techel when they finish viewing the tape Friday morning.