NASHVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A judge sentenced a man to 80 years in prison Thursday for the beating death of an Indiana University student two weeks before she was due to graduate.
Daniel Messel of Bloomington was sentenced to 60 years behind bars for the April 2015 murder of Hannah Wilson and another 20 years for being a habitual criminal. Indiana law requires Messel, 51, serve at least three-quarters of his sentence, or 60 years.
The body of the 22-year-old psychology major from Fishers, an Indianapolis suburb, was found in a vacant lot about 10 miles from IU's Bloomington campus. Messel's cellphone was found under the body.
Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart said that even what amounts to a life sentence was inadequate for Messel.
"There is nothing the court can do by sentence that brings complete justice," Stewart said.
Messel maintained his innocence during the hearing.
"I didn't kill Hannah. If it was my daughter, I'd want to know what really happened," he said. A jury deliberated about five hours last month before convicting Messel.
Authorities haven't said how or when they believe Messel and Wilson came into contact. When police first went to Messel's home on the day Wilson's body was found, his father told them his son had not returned from playing trivia at a local bar the night before.
Messel was previously convicted of forgery in 1989, felony battery in 1990, and battery with a deadly weapon and battery resulting in serious injury in 1996. The last two charges resulted in an eight-year prison sentence.