Child molestation case headed back to trial

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Judge Stephen Quinn explains a matter to prosecutor Andrea Reeb, Thursday at the Curry County Courthouse at the status hearing of Larry Hatcher.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A Clovis man accused of 116 counts of child molestation is scheduled for a second jury trial the first week of March.

Jurors on Oct. 2 announced they could not reach a verdict in the case against Larry Hatcher, 48, and a mistrial was declared.

District Judge Stephen Quinn on Thursday set the date for a new trial and reduced Hatcher’s bond from $250,000 to $200,000.

Hatcher is accused of forcing a now-teenage girl to have sexual relations with him over a seven-year period. He was originally held, in 2007, on $2 million bond and faced 143 molestation charges.

Hatcher’s attorney, Randall Harris, presented the court with a motion to dismiss on Thursday, alleging prosecutors attempted to “glean unfair insight into and through the written notes of jurors” following the mistrial.

Harris said jurors’ notes and other items related to their deliberations had not been removed from the jury room when employees of the prosecutor entered.

District Attorney Matt Chandler characterized the motion as a “Hail Mary” intended to cause distraction. Chandler said his employees, an investigator and assistant district attorney, did nothing improper. He said they were operating under instructions to make contact with jurors to discuss the trial, something customary for attorneys on both sides, especially after a mistrial.

Quinn will review Harris’ motion and any responses he receives from prosecutors prior to ruling.