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Messel Requests New Murder Trial Without 'Speculative' Evidence

Daniel Messel, the Bloomington man convicted in the murder of Indiana University Student Hannah Wilson in 2015, says his trial was unfair because the court allowed evidence that the jury shouldn’t have heard.

Messel is appealing the murder conviction and his 80-year prison sentence.

Last August, a jury in Brown County heard six days of testimony during the trial, where they learned from investigators that Wilson died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Police say she was hit at least four times by a rounded object, like a tree branch or a pipe. But police never found a murder weapon.

One of Messel’s coworkers testified at the trial, saying he remembered Messel telling him he carried around a Maglite flashlight, possibly for self-defense.

In the appeal brief filed this week, public defender Kurt Young argues that evidence should not have been allowed during the trial, because it invited the jury to speculate that this heavy metal flashlight was the missing murder weapon.

"The speculative evidence allowed by the trial court severely prejudiced Messel and certainly contributed to his conviction of a serious crime in this case with a verdict supported in part by mere speculation or conjecture," the brief says.

The appeal also argues a judge didn’t consider all the mitigating factors before ordering an 80-year sentence, effectively a life sentence for the 52-year-old.

The appeal says Messel is a recent cancer survivor, is not in good physical or mental health and had no criminal history since a misdemeanor in 2006.

Messel is asking the appeals court to grant a new trial, to reduce his sentence or to grant him a resentencing. The appeal brief was originally due late last year, but a judge granted several extensions.

Messel is also facing rape and battery charges in Monroe County for an unrelated case in 2012.

Read the complete appeal below:

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