Jurors in the murder trial of Daniel Messel will travel a few blocks to the Brown County Sheriff’s Department to see the vehicle which the state says contains victim Hannah Wilson’s blood.
Messel’s SUV is currently being held by the Indiana State Police in Bloomington. Judge Judith Stewart approved the state’s request to allow jurors to see it in person, but she said it had to be brought here.
Messel will be allowed to see the vehicle in person, too.
Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams said the intent is to transport the vehicle from Bloomington in a sealed trailer and store it at the Brown County jail. From that point forward, the Brown County Sheriff’s office will be in charge of the vehicle.
Adams said the jury likely will be bused to the jail.
Defense attorney Dorie Maryan said she was concerned about a sheriff’s deputy who is also a witness being in charge of the vehicle. She doesn’t want the jury to perceive the witness as an authority figure because of his role in keeping the vehicle secure.
Adams said he intends to call only one deputy as a witness. He didn’t anticipate it would be a staffing problem to keep the witness separate from the vehicle.
Before they are questioned by the defense and prosecution on what they know about the case, potential jurors will not be all together in the same room, as they often are for other trials.
Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart has decided that the first half of the jury pool to be questioned Thursday, July 28, and Friday, July 29, will be sequestered in the jury room and law library until it is their turn to answer the attorneys’ questions.
The second half of the potential jury group each day will be released for the morning with instructions not to discuss the case with anyone. Then, they will report back to the courtroom at 1 p.m for questioning.
Jury selection will take place in the courtroom rather than in the small hearing room at the Brown County Courthouse, in order to accommodate members of the public who want to be present, Stewart said.