BROWN COUNTY, Ind. – The man convicted of murdering 22-year-old Indiana University student Hannah Wilson was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Daniel Messel appeared in court Thursday afternoon for this sentencing hearing, where members of Wilson’s family delivered statements about the impact Wilson had on their lives and how her death had affected them.
Those who spoke in court included her father, Jeff Wilson, her younger sister, Haley Wilson and her mother, Robin Wilson.
“You robbed Hannah of a lifetime ahead of her,” Robin Wilson said in court. “You robbed me of knowing how beautiful she will look on her wedding day.”
When given a chance to speak, Messel maintained that he didn’t kill Wilson and accused prosecutors of misconduct. He said the prosecution’s theory on the murder weapon—that he used a Maglite to beat her to death—was a “fantasy.”
Prosecutor Ted Adams noted Messel’s past history–he has eight violent convictions–and said the last 30 minutes of Wilson’s life were “terrible.”
Messel’s defense attorney, Dorie Maryan, took issue with some of the aggravating factors cited by Adams, including Wilson’s age. She said mitigating factors that should be considered include that Messel was a law-abiding citizen “for a time” and that he was a cancer survivor.
Ultimately, Judge Judith Stewart sentenced Messel to 60 years for the murder and an additional enhancement of 20 years for being a habitual offender.
A jury found Messel guilty of murder last month after the trial, which lasted more than a week. Wilson, a senior at IU, was killed in April 2015. Police found her body in a vacant lot in Brown County about 30 minutes away from the Bloomington campus.
Messel became the focus of the investigation into Wilson’s death after investigators found his cell phone lying next to her body. Investigators also found DNA from Wilson on Messel’s Kia Sportage, including the hood and windshield. Traces of blood were found inside the vehicle.
Messel’s attorney contended throughout the trial that police only focused their investigation on Messel and didn’t consider any other suspects or possibilities.