Daniel E. Messel, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Brown Circuit Court The Honorable Judith A. Stewart,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 07C01-1504-MR-113
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Kurt A. Young Nashville, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Michael Gene Worden Deputy Attorney General
Daniel Messel appeals following his conviction for
Murder and adjudication for being an Habitual
Offender. Messel argues that the trial court erred
by admitting certain evidence. He also appeals the sentence
imposed by the trial court, contending that it is
inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his
character. Finding no error and that the sentence is not
inappropriate, we affirm.
On April 23, 2015, Hannah Wilson, a 22-year-old senior at
Indiana University, finished her last exam for her
undergraduate degree and began celebrating with friends that
afternoon. Later that evening, Hannah and some of her friends
decided to go to a bar in Bloomington. While they were
waiting in line to enter the bar, however, Hannah's
friends decided that she was too intoxicated to continue with
the evening, so they put her in a taxi and told the driver to
take her home. Surveillance videos later obtained by police
showed a car similar to Messel's following the taxi that
was transporting Hannah. The taxi driver followed the
instructions of Hannah's friends, dropping her off at the
corner of 8th Street and Dunn, which was near her apartment.
On the morning of April 24, 2015, Carol Bridges was driving
from her Brown County home to Bloomington when she saw
something along Plum Creek Road near Indiana 45 that caught
her attention, so she stopped to investigate. When she exited
her car and walked closer, she realized there was a body,
later identified as Hannah, lying in a vacant lot with a cell
phone at its feet. Bridges then called the police. The Brown
County Sheriff and his deputies, as well as the Indiana State
Police, responded to the scene.
As law enforcement began investigating, they learned that the
cell phone near Hannah's body belonged to Messel. State
Police detectives arrived at Messel's home early on the
morning of April 24, 2015. He was not home, as he normally
would have been, nor did he show up for work that day-a pay
day- or call in to report his absence. He also did not
respond to texts from a friend. Messel emptied his bank
account and filled up his car with gas.
Later that day, a neighbor called police when Messel returned
home. State Police quickly drove to Messel's home and saw
that he was carrying a plastic garbage bag out to his car.
State Police arrested him at that time and seized the bag.
Further investigation revealed that the bag contained
clothing that had blood on it, some of which contained
Hannah's DNA. Hannah's blood, hair, and DNA were
found in the interior and exterior of Messel's car.
Surveillance videos showed a vehicle similar to Messel's
on the road that led to the crime scene early on the morning
of April 24. Cell phone location evidence linked Messel to
the location where Hannah was in Bloomington before her
disappearance and to the area near the crime scene on April
An autopsy on Hannah's body was conducted on April 25,
2015. The autopsy revealed that she had sustained various
injuries and that she had died after being struck multiple
times with a blunt object on the left side of her head,
crushing her skull.
On April 27, 2015, the State charged Messel with murder. On
December 3, 2015, the State added a count alleging Messel to
be an habitual offender. Messel's jury trial began on
August 2, 2016. At trial, the State introduced testimony that
Messel once possessed a mag flashlight. Messel's attorney
objected to this testimony, but the trial court overruled the
objection and admitted the evidence.
The jury found Messel guilty of murder on August 10, 2016.
The jury then heard evidence regarding the habitual offender
allegation and found that Messel is an habitual offender. On
September 22, 2016, the trial court sentenced Messel to sixty
years imprisonment for murder and enhanced ...