Woman acquitted on murder charge in mayor's death
WELCH, W.Va. -- A jury has acquitted a woman on a murder charge in the death of War Mayor Thomas Hatcher, her father-in-law.
Jurors in McDowell Circuit Court found Rebecca Hatcher not guilty on a charge of first-degree murder Wednesday, but were unable to reach a verdict on a conspiracy charge after deliberating a second day.
Circuit Judge Rudolph J. Murensky II declared a mistrial on the conspiracy charge. McDowell County Prosecutor Edward Kornish said the state would try Hatcher again on that charge, and the judge set a Feb. 24 date for retrial.
City workers found the 72-year-old mayor's body in his home on July 17, 2012.
Prosecutors say Thomas Hatcher was smothered with a plastic bag, while the defense argued that the mayor died of natural causes.
Rebecca Hatcher's brother and co-defendant, Earl Click of Grundy, Va., is scheduled to stand trial in January on a first-degree murder charge.
Several prosecution witnesses testified during the trial that Hatcher did not like her father-in-law. During closing arguments, Kornish said the mayor had reached his limit with Hatcher, who spent his money on gambling and expensive shoes for her son.
"What has the state proven in this case?'' Rebecca Hatcher's attorney, Thomas Evans, said during Tuesday's closing arguments. "They've proven that Mr. Hatcher passed away on July 17, 2012. They proved that Rebecca Hatcher made an unauthorized withdrawal from Tom Hatcher's bank account, spent more for tennis shoes than he allowed and they argued. Does any of that add up to murder?
"This is not a murder. He died of natural causes,'' Evans said.