Daniel Messel sentenced to 80 years in Hannah Wilson's murder

Daniel Messel leaving court on Sept. 22, 2016 (WTHR photo)
Daniel Messel sentenced
Messel sentenced 6pm
Messel sentencing Thursday
Messel sentenced

BROWN COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) - The man convicted of killing Indiana University student Hannah Wilson was sentenced Thursday to 80 years in prison.

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence for Daniel Messel. He was sentenced to 60 years for the murder, plus an additional 20 for being a habitual offender.

A jury found him guilty of the crime earlier this summer. Prosecutors used DNA evidence to link Messel to the crime.

Wilson was 22 years old when she was found dead in a Brown County field back in 2015.

Messel said nothing as he was headed into the courthouse to learn his sentence Thursday. But it was a different story inside the courtroom, when Judge Judith Stewart asked Messel if he wanted to address the court.

He spoke directly to Wilson's family.

"I didn't kill Hannah. I'm sorry for the Wilson family's loss, but I didn't do it and if it was my daughter, I would want to know who did it," he said.

It's the first time since his arrest that Messel has spoken and claimed his innocence.

The claim comes despite the prosecution's case last month, which placed Messel's cell phone by Wilson's body, along with her blood and hair in his car.

Wilson's younger sister, Haley, told Messel in court, "You will die alone. Just like Hannah died alone."

"I've waited 17 months to talk to you," said Wilson's mother, Robin.

She told Messel she had questions she wanted to answer.

"Why Hannah? What do you really have to lose, Daniel? Why my daughter? Where did you cross paths? How did you get her in the car?" she asked. "Did you feel pleasure when you heard my daughter's skull crack? Was Hannah your first, or have you killed before?"

After sentencing, she explained her questioning.

"As Hannah's mother, I have had my own feelings about the fact that she was probably not the first IU student...I have no grounds or basis for that other than a mother's intuition," Wilson said.

She didn't elaborate more, saying Messel didn't know what he was bargaining for when he chose Hannah.

"He's probably wishing today that he would have made a different choice, somebody that might not have been able to put up much resistance. Hannah was not that girl," she said.

Prosecutors believe Hannah Wilson fought back in the last minutes of her life, leading to the key evidence that helped convict Messel.

Outside of court, Robin Wilson says asking those questions were an important step in her healing process.

"Addressing him was the hardest thing that any mother should ever have done. Certainly harder than even sitting through the trial, but I needed to say certain things," Robin Wilson said. "I think being able to say what I needed to say is what will help me move forward. Actually having the questions answered would be what I really need, but I'm not anticipating getting those answers."