DCI Criminalist: Crime scene indicated no signs of a struggle
DAVENPORT (AP) — In a recorded interview with Wapello County Deputy Jeff Layton, Seth Techel, 23, breaks down and sobs when he talks about his wife and their unborn child.
Techel faces charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy after his pregnant wife, Lisa Caldwell Techel, was shot and killed in the couple’s mobile home near Agency on May 26, 2012.
Layton took the stand today and answered questions after the jury heard his interview with Techel after his wife was found dead from a gunshot wound.
Here’s what happened, Seth Techel said: The night before his wife, who worked a late shift as a jailer, was slain, he had come home from his job and watched television with his dog, Remington, beside him. In the interview, Seth Techel says he got home about 11 p.m. and his wife got home about midnight.Seth Techel said he got up about 5 a.m. and told his wife he’d shower, then wake her up in a few minutes. He let Remington out, and the dog was “looking around,” Techel said. Techel then got in the shower.
He “heard the blast” and ran out to check to see if his wife still was breathing, and she was. “At that point, the biggest thing on my mind was finding the (---)” who shot her, Techel said, and broke down. He said he got out of the shower and “heard a thud.” He then grabbed his Glock and ran down the hallway “as fast as I could, trying to catch whoever was in my house.”
When he later “ripped off the sheet,” he saw the bullet hole in his wife’s left side. She didn’t have a pulse, said Techel.
The dog, Techel said, did not bark when Techel was in the shower.In the interview, Techel mentions problems with a neighbor named (Brian) Tate. After Seth Techel and Lisa were married, Seth Techel tried to introduce himself to an “older gentleman on a four-wheeler” who took off and did not talk to Techel. He said other neighbors told him that Tate, who lived with his mother and brother, “has been a creepy neighbor.” One day during the winter, Techel said, he saw a dead deer in the road and kicked it aside. The carcass began to smell when the weather grew warmer. Lisa Techel, he said, saw the deer carcass in a tree, and then it ended up in the Techels’ burn barrel. Seth Techel said he threw the hide over into Tate’s property, whereupon it ended up in the Techels’ driveway.
Techel said he heard Tate had reported to the sheriff’s department that someone had thrown feces and rocks on his property, and that Tate had told the sheriff’s department the Techels were “terrorists.” Techel added that he awoke one morning to find a miniature American flag pounded into a post of the fence. One night, Remington was agitated, and Seth took the dog outside and grabbed his gun as the dog went along the fence and drank from a saucer that was on Techel’s side of the fence. Techel said you could tell from the impressions that “someone had been standing in the tall weeds” nearby. Soon afterward, Remington had intestinal problems and Techel took him to a veterinarian, who said the dog showed signs of mild poisoning.
Layton said he has known Seth Techel for many years, nearly Techel’s entire life. The deputy said it “never crossed my mind” that Seth Techel could have committed the crime.Also taking the stand was Richard Crivello, an impression evidence expert who was with the FBI and the Wyoming crime lab previously and now works for the DCI.
He said shotgun shells that have been fired are not likely to have fingerprints. Crivello examined eight latent fingerprints from the crime scene and found that they all matched Techel’s and his friends.Seth Techel’s fingerprints were not on the shotgun, Crivello confirmed.Finishing his testimony was DCI Criminalist Michael Halverson, who collected evidence at the scene. There were no signs of a struggle or that anything was stolen, Halverson said, adding that a gun rack in the Techel home held three undisturbed guns.
Halverson said black powder is used to dust for fingerprints. “It adheres to moisture and makes visible what you can’t see in natural light,” he said.
Techel’s defense team includes court-appointed attorneys Jake Feuerhelm and Roger Owens of Des Moines. Also in court are prosecutors Assistant Attorneys General Scott Brown and Andrew Prosser, who have prosecuted the case since its beginning. Brown is the area prosecutions division director.
Both teams questioned witnesses today. More witnesses are expected to take the stand this afternoon.Each of Techel’s first two trials in Wapello and Henry counties ended because of a hung jury – considered to be mistrials. Judge Daniel Wilson continues to preside over Techel’s trial after Wilson first was assigned the case in July 2012.