UPDATE 9:25 a.m. May 13: Aug. 1 at 8 a.m. is the second choice for a new trial by jury date. The request for a new date was granted May 11.
A final pre-trial conference is set for July 13 at 9 a.m. A test jury will also be brought in to determine juror bias on June 1 at 9 a.m. A previous pre-trial conference set for 11 a.m. May 16 was converted to a pre-trial conference to review test jury procedures.
The defendant’s motion for change of venue remains under advisement. Read original story below.
Brown County’s judge will decide today whether or not the trial of a man accused of murdering an Indiana University student will be delayed again.
Daniel E. Messel, 50, of Bloomington is accused of killing Hannah Wilson, whose body was found in April 2015 in a vacant lot at State Road 45 and Plum Creek Road in Brown County.
The trial had been scheduled for June 1. A previous request to continue a Feb. 24 trial was granted; the original date had been July 22, 2015.
Judge Judith A. Stewart said she knew both sides have worked “diligently” preparing for the case.
But she said she had concerns about the continuance because subpoenas have been sent out to witnesses, and it’s difficult to find a new date on the court schedule that doesn’t delay the trial for months longer.
Public defender Dorie Maryan said Messel wanted a continuance because he had not received all of the evidence the state plans to use and he is concerned there isn’t enough time to adequately prepare.
Maryan said she’s having trouble finding an expert to provide additional testimony on bloodstain analysis. The two she spoke to are unable to testify, she said.
Maryan had told the court that a potential witness came forward April 27 with new information. But it turns out that witness is “no use to the defense,” Maryan told the court this morning.
Maryan had initially asked for the trial to be moved out of Brown County last June, but Judge Judith Stewart decided to keep it in Brown County, reserving a final ruling until the jury selection process began.
A supplement to that motion was filed April 29 by Maryan citing continued “prejudicial pretrial publicity.”
This morning, Maryan said she was comfortable with the plan to question a “test jury” to determine whether or not bias exists. That jury would not be the one to actually hear and rule on the case.
Stewart stated that test juries do not always solve the issue of juror bias completely.
“It’s not a guarantee, it certainly helps, but it’s not a guarantee,” she said.
If jurors are deemed biased, Stewart said she would grant the change of venue request.
However, if Stewart decides to keep the June 1 trial date, a test jury would not be brought in; whether or not the jury pool is biased would be determined through the normal jury selection process.
Prosecutor Ted Adams argued that getting a test juror pool would bring more publicity to the trial.