When Matthew Brighton took the stand to testify in court he was asked how he knew Daniel Messel in April 2015.
He quickly answered they were co-workers, but then paused.
“We were friends at the time,” he said.
They had worked together and been friends for three years often playing trivia at bars around Bloomington, and occasionally they played games of disc golf or went to an IU sporting event.
The two, along with Jennifer Lentz and Aulaire Schmitz, were playing trivia at Yogi’s Bar and Grill just hours before Hannah Wilson went missing.
Schmitz testified that the group formed that night through a group text and that Messel was there wearing jeans, a red shirt and dark shoes, which match the description of clothing found with Wilson’s blood on them.
She said the group left the bar together at around 11 to 11:30 p.m. Police called her the next day using Messel’s phone and asked her if she could confirm who the number was. She testified that she told police the number matched the contact for Daniel Messel.
Lentz, an IU professor in the speech and hearing department, met Messel four to five years ago playing trivia and testified that she often invited students to play with her and Messel.
She said Messel had been drinking Upland Wheat Ale, and the waitress later testified he had maybe two or three of the beers.
The next day she also received a phone call from police that left her worried for Messel. She called Brighton thinking he would be at work with him but then found out he was not.
She said she grew more concerned and drove out to Messel’s house to check on him. Messel was not there, but at least three police cars and multiple officers were there. She left after about 30 minutes still not knowing where Messel was.
Brighton was the last of the trivia team to testify.
He rode with Messel that night to Yogi’s. He said he felt safe to drive home with Messel and arrived home around 11:30 p.m., which his girlfriend who lived with him confirmed in her testimony.
Before taking him home to his apartment Messel drove Brighton past Kilroy’s on Kirkwood, which Brighton said was just to see what was going on with it being Little 500 weekend.
The next day when Messel didn’t show up for work, Brighton first thought he was just running late. He messaged Messel a few times but never received a response.
He later found out from the news Messel had been arrested and how Wilson had been murdered by blunt force trauma to the head.
Though police had already contacted him about Messel’s phone, Brighton called the Indiana State Police because the new information about Messel’s arrest helped him recall a conversation.
Brighton testified that a few months prior Messel had spoken of a Mag Lite he owned and could use if someone were to mess with him.
Brighton said he believed Messel carried it in his car, but police never found the flashlight and Brighton said he never saw it for himself.