‘Justice claims victory’ in slaying of IU student

Judge levies near-maximum sentence for man convicted of killing IU student

Robin Wilson looked in the eyes of the man convicted of murdering her daughter.

She had questions she wanted Daniel Messel to answer: why her daughter? Where did he cross paths with her? How did he get her in his car? Where was he intending to take her? What was his “end game”?

“You robbed me of seeing how beautiful she will look on her wedding day, and I will never know what it feels like to rock her babies to sleep,” she said.

“There’s a hole in my family that can never be filled.”

‘I didn’t do it’

The 51-year-old Messel maintained his innocence when he addressed the court at sentencing Sept. 22.“I am sorry for the Wilson family’s loss, but I didn’t do it. If it was my daughter, I would want to know what really happened,” he said.

Messel, a Bloomington resident, said he was not presumed innocent until proven guilty. “A fair trial wasn’t on the agenda; just a conviction,” he said.

Daniel Messel
Daniel Messel

Hannah Wilson’s body was found in a vacant lot on Plum Creek Road in April 2015. The 22-year-old was days away from graduating from Indiana University. She had been out celebrating with friends that night before she disappeared.

A jury convicted Messel of murder Aug. 10.

A cellphone was found at her feet. It was Messel’s, police said.

Security camera videos from multiple places in Bloomington and Brown County showed a vehicle similar to his around the times and in the areas Hannah went missing and her body was found. Police said his clothing had blood on it — his and Hannah’s — and hairs and blood with her DNA profile were found in his car, too.

80-year sentence

Judge Judith Stewart sentenced him to 80 years in prison — 65 years on the murder sentence and an additional 20 for being found to be a habitual offender by the jury that convicted him.The family had asked he receive the maximum sentence — 85 years — and Hannah’s father, Jeff Wilson, requested he be placed in solitary confinement.{p dir=”ltr”}{span}”I have no compassion for him; the court shouldn’t either,” he said.

Messel received credit for 517 days already served. He will be eligible to earn one day of credit for every three served, the judge said.

He must also pay Hannah’s father $19,316.69 in restitution for funeral expenses and lost wages, and $15,135 to Hannah’s mother.

“I call this a ‘never’ event,” Jeff said at sentencing.

“It’s beyond belief and an experience you never thought would ever happen to you in a million years.”

Hannah’s sister, Hayley, now an IU student, described her big sister as her best friend and confidant. They had planned their weddings, talked about their future children and planned future Thanksgiving dinners because neither knew how to cook.

{span id=”docs-internal-guid-2c5ee640-5379-de41-6f87-03debcfa856b”}{span id=”docs-internal-guid-2c5ee640-5379-de41-6f87-03debcfa856b”}”Because of your actions, I am an only child now. I have to watch all of my friends fight with their sisters or talk about how amazing their sisters are, and every second I am reminded my sister is dead, murdered by you, Daniel Messel,” she said.

“You had a choice. Hannah died by the decisions of you, Daniel Messel. You didn’t have to get Hannah in your car. You didn’t have to hold her down, drive her miles away, pull her hair out by the root and bludgeon her to death.

“I will have to live forever with the unknowns, the holes in the story,” she said.

A pathologist determined Hannah died from blunt-force trauma to the head. She was hit about four times until the back of her skull was crushed.

“You did not know her strength, courage and fighting spirit. She was not an easy prey,” Robin Wilson said.

‘My daughter died a hero’

Prosecutors said evidence showed Hannah attempted to fight off her killer, which may have led to his cellphone dropping.“My daughter died a hero that night alone on Plum Creek Road,” Robin sad.

“I was not there to hold her hand as she took that last breath. I was not able to say goodbye.”

She had planned for 17 months what she would say to her daughter’s killer, she said.

“You still hoped for some loophole that would set you free. Not this time, Daniel Messel,” Robin said.

“Justice claims victory over evil.”