- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2016

NASHVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Lawyers will question 25 to 30 test jurors to determine if an impartial jury can be seated for the trial of a Bloomington man accused of killing an Indiana University student, a judge ruled Monday.

Brown County Circuit Judge Judith Stewart and the lawyers in the case will ask the jurors about what they have heard about defendant Daniel Messel through the news coverage of the case and whether they would be able to presume him innocent.

Messel, 50, is charged with murder in the April 2014 beating death of 22-year-old Hannah Wilson, of Fishers. She disappeared after partying with friends during Little 500 weekend, and her body was later found in a vacant lot near Helmsburg, about 10 miles from IU’s Bloomington campus.

Messel contends that the publicity over evidence that allegedly links him to her death and related reports make it impossible for him to receive a fair trial in Brown County. Authorities say Messel’s cellphone was found next to Wilson’s body.

The defense has requested a change of venue, which Stewart has yet to rule on, The (Bloomington) Herald-Times reported (https://bit.ly/1TVVFJv ). The test jurors will be asked only about the effect of publicity in the case, which “I would think a vast majority of them would have heard about,” Stewart said.

“Can they set all of that aside and base their decision solely on what they hear and see in the courtroom?” she said.

Stewart and lawyers agreed to question each test juror individually June 1 rather than in a group. Stewart acknowledged that will take longer and be more tedious, but she said she hopes to complete the process in one day.

Messel’s trial is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 following two days of jury selection.


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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