Wilson's killer appeals 80-year sentence


Daniel Messel leaves the Brown County courthouse after being convicted of the murder of Hannah Wilson and being found a habitual offender. Recently, he was charged with the 2012 rape of another IU student. Michael Williams Buy Photos

The man convicted of murdering IU student Hannah Wilson is appealing his 80-year prison sentence, days after the two year anniversary of her death. 

Daniel Messel, 52, is arguing the court should not have admitted evidence which suggested a heavy flashlight was used to bludgeon Hannah Wilson to death. 

In the appeal, Messel’s attorney, Kurt Young, questions the validity of evidence surrounding Messel having owned a Maglite flashlight and argues Messel’s sentence is unjust. He was given 60 years for the murder and 20 years for being a habitual offender.

Wilson disappeared during Little 500 weekend and was found on the side of State Rd. 45 in Brown County. After an autopsy, investigators concluded she died of blunt force trauma to the head. She had been struck at least four times, investigators said, by a rounded object, perhaps a bat, club or tree limb, according to court documents. No murder weapon was ever found.

Matthew Brighton, a former trivia teammate of Messel’s, testified during the trial Messel had mentioned owning a Mag flashlight, which Brighton believed Messel carried in his car. Brighton admitted he'd never seen the flashlight himself, although he'd been in Messel's car on numerous occasions. 

“The trial court erred in permitting the State to offer evidence that Messel at some point owned a Mag light when no murder weapon was found and no testimony supported a conclusion that Wilson was bludgeoned by a Mag light,” the appeal states. 

Young also argues in the appeal the court failed to consider mitigating factors which might have reduced Messel's sentence, including his poor mental and physical health and the sorrow he expressed for the Wilson's family. 

"This Court should reduce Messel's sentence or remand the case to the trial court with instruction that it grants him a new sentencing hearing," the appeal states. 

Messel has been in the psychiatric unit of New Castle Correctional Facility since November, according to reporting from The Herald-Times. Previously, he’d been serving his sentence at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.

Taylor Telford 

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