By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
A mistrial has been declared in the case of a 48-year-old Clovis man charged with 143 counts of child molestation. A Curry County jury announced Thursday they were deadlocked, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.
The announcement was made in closed chambers late Thursday afternoon, according to Chandler.
Jurors heard three days of testimony and arguments during a trial in the 9th Judicial District Court and deliberated for a full day.
Larry Hatcher was accused of forcing a now-teenage girl to have sexual relations with him over a seven-year period.
The girl was 16 in November when she reported the alleged abuse to Clovis school officials, according to court records.
Chandler said his office fully intends to retry the case and has six months to present it to the court.
“While we respect the jury’s decision, we feel we can obtain a conviction,” he said Thursday night.
Larry Hatcher was relieved but mindful of the pain on both sides of the case, according to his brother, former Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher.
“It’s been a very, very difficult thing for everybody. We’re glad that we’re at this point. (But) we don’t know where it’s going to go from here,” said Roger Hatcher, who is now Tucumcari’s police chief.
Roger Hatcher said the last year has been difficult for people on both sides of the case and, “we just want everybody to heal over this.”
Magistrate Judge Richard Hollis ordered Larry Hatcher held on a $2 million bond after his December arrest.
In January, district court reduced the bond to $25,000 and he was released on the provision he wear an ankle bracelet monitor.
Chandler said the witness is tired and needs some time to rest but they plan to re-evaluate things next week.
“We are very proud of our victim for following through … on one hand our victim is ready to move forward with her life but on the other hand she doesn’t want this to happen to any other child,” he said.
One thing prosecutors may evaluate is the number of counts charged in the case, Chandler said, explaining such a large number can be discouraging for jurors who have to evaluate evidence for each count.