Indiana Daily Student

Counsel presents final arguments, jury in deliberations

Daniel Messel is led out of the Brown County Courthouse and to a waiting car in Nashville, IN on Friday.
Daniel Messel is led out of the Brown County Courthouse and to a waiting car in Nashville, IN on Friday.

Wednesday morning, on the final day of Daniel Messel’s trial, the prosecution and defense presented their final arguments to the jury.

Near the end of his statement, prosecutor Ted Adams took out a photo book he had made of Hannah’s life and began flipping through photos.

Hannah Wilson's mom, Robin, sitting next to him, broke down crying. Other family members, friends and even members of the jury had to wipe tears from their eyes.

After the defense objected to Adams going any further, he began talking about who Hannah was instead.

“Hannah Wilson was a 22-year-old college student, two weeks from graduation,” he said. “She had friends, she had a family, she had a sister, she had a cat named Mac.”

She was probably having one of the best days of her life on April 23, Adams said.

He then pulled out a small manila envelope.

“This is all we have of Hannah Wilson: a DNA swab. Because that man killed her,” Adams said, pointing at Messel.

When Adams initially presented his case more than a week ago, he said the cell phone found by Hannah’s dead body was the key to unlocking this case.

It led investigators to every other piece of evidence, Adams said, all pointing toward Messel being guilty of Hannah’s murder.

The cell phone led police officers to Messel, who was arrested while holding a plastic bag of blood-stained clothes. Next to Messel’s house was his 2012 Kia Sportage, full of stains, including 220 “blood spatters” inside the drivers side door.

Adams emphasized the discovery of Hannah’s hair, “pulled out by the root,” inside that vehicle – 50 hairs in the back, 41 on the center console.

Prosecutor Jim Roberts walked jurors through the timeline of Hannah’s last night, Messel’s steps on the night he allegedly murdered her, and how the two timelines overlapped.

“Hannah’s life was cut short by a brutal, cowardly killer, who is sitting feet from you,” Roberts said.

He asked the jury to use common sense, pointing to the “blood on his car, her hair in his car, and his bloody clothes in a bag.”

He asked the jury to look past the unknown.

“The seas of unknown has no floor,” Roberts said. “The defense counsel will invite you to delve into that bottomless sea.”

And that’s exactly what defense attorney Dorie Maryan did when presenting her final statement to the jury.

There are more questions than answers, she said.

There was no confirmed blood on the steering wheel or dashboard of Messel’s car. There wasn’t enough blood on Messel’s clothing to conclude that he was at the crime scene on Plum Creek Road and killed Hannah Wilson. There was no murder weapon found.

Maryan said for those reasons, among others, Messel did not murder Hannah.

“The state has not met its burden,” she said. “And for that reason you must find Mr. Messel not guilty.”

The jury is in deliberations. A verdict and possible sentencing will follow.

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