FISHERS, Ind. - Less than two weeks after a man was convicted of murdering Indiana University student Hannah Wilson, her mother is opening up about their family's determination to get justice.
Wilson's family sat through days of graphic evidence and testimony as they awaited the verdict. Robin Wilson, Hannah's mother, says she felt she needed to be there to stand up for her daughter.
"I needed her to know that I was still fighting for her because she couldn’t be there," Robin said. " She couldn’t be there to tell us what happened."
During the trial, the prosecutor called Hannah a hero for fighting her attacker and causing him to drop his cell phone at the scene. The cell phone would later become a key piece of evidence.
"I felt, you know, a sense of how strong she was," Robin said. "I felt like she did her best to make sure that somebody else was not going to ever be hurt by this man."
This, too, became Robin's mission.
"From the very beginning, I told the detectives that I needed to know that he was never going to walk free in our streets ever again," Robin said.
Daniel Messel was found guilty in early August. He faces 45 to 65 years in prison, with a possible additional 20 years for being a habitual offender. The prosecutor said he plans to push for an 85-year sentence.
While Robin said the verdict brought her relief, she still feels there are unanswered questions.
"There are those nights that you lay awake and you think of those few questions that haven't put all the pieces of the puzzle together," Robin said.
So instead, she focuses on her daughter's memory.
"I raised my girls to be independent, to be strong," Robin said. "I raised them to go want to see the world. And, Hannah did exactly what she wanted to do."
Robin says she is focused on waking up each day with a purpose.
"The last thing Hannah would’ve wanted is for anyone’s life to not continue," she said.
Working with ICAN
Robin Wilson is hoping to carry on Hannah's legacy by making an impact in the community. She is working with ICAN Dogs to help families in need of service animals.
An ICAN dog is now named after Hannah. The dog is still going through training and is expected to graduate next June.
"It’s special to me that she can hopefully do something positive and bring a better life, quality of life or love, to somebody in her future," Robin said. "That would’ve been something Hannah would’ve been happy to see."
It usually costs around $26,000 to put one dog through two years of training to become a service animal, according to Dino Sierp from ICAN. The group keeps those fees at $1,600 for the families they assist.
ICAN functions mostly through donations and there's a long wait-list for people who need service dogs. Robin is working with them to create the "Hannah Wilson Fund" to provide funding for more dogs to be trained.
For more information on how to help, click here.