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Judge Won't Hold Closed Hearing On Accused Murder's Criminal History
Updated January 12, 2016 7:43 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(NASHVILLE) - A Brown County Circuit Court judge won't hold a closed hearing to discuss accused murder Daniel Messel's criminal past.

Brown County Circuit Judge Judith Stewart ruled she will take extra steps to review the "404(b) evidence" before it is submitted to the case file before a public hearing.

The judge says she must balance the public's right to know what with that of Daniel Messel's right to a fair trial.

In denying the request, Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart said she will take extra steps to review what is called "404(b) evidence" before it is submitted to the case file and discussed during a public hearing.

Judge Stewart ruled that at this time the parties involved have not shown that the entire hearing on the evidence should be closed, but did show the need for more detailed submission of the proposed evidence in private for her consideration to determine if it should become attached to the official case, which is part of the public record.

So she denied the request until a more specific description of the evidence to be offered and the purpose for which it is offered.

Indiana trial rules prohibit the admission of a defendant's criminal record unless the prosecution can prove a pattern or connection to the current case such as motive, planning or intent to commit the crime.

Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams wants to introduce such evidence against Messel during his trial in June.

Messel's previous convictions involved violence against women and Adams wants to use that evidence for a habitual criminal charge that could lengthen Messel's prison sentence if he is convicted of killing 22-year-old Indiana University student Hannah Wilson.

Messel, a print shop worker from Bloomington, was arrested after police found his cell phone near Wilson's body. Police found Messel at his home on Ison Road, where they say they found him with bloody clothes in a garbage bag and blood in his car.

Wilson's body was discovered a day after she was reported missing. On April 24 a motorist discovered Wilson's body face-down in a vacant lot at State Road 45 and Plum Creek Road in Brown County.

An autopsy determined Wilson had died from blunt force injuries to the back of her head.



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