Trial costs near $75,000, likely to climb

Daniel Messel’s murder trial has cost Brown County nearly $75,000.

That number is likely to climb if Messel appeals the guilty verdict.

More than $12,200 was spent on juror expenses, for a test jury as well as the jury seated for the trial. Expenses included per diems, meals and mileage, said Brown County Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart. She anticipated an additional $100 for the bus used to take the jury to see Messel’s vehicle at the Brown County Law Enforcement Center.

After those expenses, and expenses for an earlier unrelated jury trial this year, the court still has about half its annual budget for juror expenses remaining, she said.

The biggest expense was paying Messel’s public defender, Dorie Maryan, at $100 per hour. The total paid to her firm was $56,236.90, said Brown County deputy auditor Doug Keaton.

The public defender fund started the year with $14,000, Brown County Auditor Beth Mulry told the county council in July.

After moving some small amounts from support accounts, the fund still came up short, Brown County Public Defender Board member Michael Sutherlin said.

The board has asked the county council for a supplemental budget appropriation of $18,000 to help cover the bill, and the council will discuss it in October.

The state will reimburse the public defender board 40 percent of the public defender costs on felony cases, Stewart said.

Prosecutor Ted Adams had asked for $17,500 in his 2016 budget to cover the his portion of trial expenses, but ended up spending less than that. His office spent about $6,500 on expenses like hotel rooms and mileage reimbursements for out-of-town witnesses and gift cards for store employees who worked after closing time, putting together picture exhibits.

The Brown County Inn gave the prosecutor’s office a discount on the rooms.

“At one point I had six girls in one room to save expenses that way,” Adams said. “We were trying to save the county as much expense as possible.”

Adams was also able to bring back his former legal intern, Jessica Ans, to help on the case. Her fees were covered by a program at Indiana University. Another unpaid intern, Shelby Roth, also assisted.

Adams’ and Deputy Prosecutor James T. Roberts’ salaries are covered by the state.

Stewart assigned Kurt Young as Messel’s public defender if he decides to appeal his guilty verdict. He will be paid out of the Brown County Public Defender Fund’s appeals budget.

“It would take a colossal amount of time to just prep it, just to read it. It would not surprise me if this cost the county easily six figures when you factor in the appeal,” Adams said.

Sutherlin said the public defender board expected Messel would appeal.

”We start a new budget year on Jan. 1, 2017, so, we hope we have budgeted properly,” he said.

Whether or not the county will have enough depends on whether or not other serious felony charges are filed in the county this year and next, Sutherlin added.