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Hatcher Trial Set For April

LUMBERTON, NC -- The capital murder trial of Eddie Hatcher has been rescheduled, according to Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt. The trial, originally set for Jan. 8, will begin April 9.

Hatcher, 43, was going to represent himself, but has decided to allow Woodberry Bowen and Sue Berry of Bowen, Berry & Powers law office, to act as his lead lawyers, Britt said. Previously, Bowen and Berry were going to act as standby counsels.

Britt said the delay is to allow Bowen and Berry time to prepare for the case.

Hatcher, a Tuscarora Indian, is perhaps most widely known for the takeover of The Robesonian newspaper in 1988. He was sentenced on Oct. 28, 2000 to 75 days in jail when a jury found him guilty of assault with a deadly weapon in the 1999 shooting of Michael Anthony Locklear. Locklear was shot in the back of his legs with a shotgun on May 19 outside Bud's Grocery Store in Maxton, NC.

Hatcher is accused of the May 31, 1999, shooting death of Brian McMillan. McMillan was a roommate of Locklear's. Testimony during the Locklear trial indicated that Hatcher blamed Locklear and McMillan for a burglary at his home.

Recent Developments:

Hatcher’s lawyer filed a motion Tuesday (Feb. 6) to dismiss his client’s capital murder charge because, he said, jail officers took Hatcher’s legal documents from his cell.

Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said even if Hatcher’s accusation is true, it would not be grounds to dismiss the case.

Hatcher collected the legal documents while he was still representing himself in the murder trial, according to a motion filed by Woodberry Bowen, who is now representing Hatcher.

The motion alleges six sheriff’s department officers went into Hatcher’s cell on Jan. 30 to search for contraband. Bowen said the officers took out a large bag containing a file of folders that were marked ‘‘witness,’’ ‘‘Ballistics,’’ ‘‘George Allen Locklear’’ and ‘‘Robeson county Jail RCJ.’’ In addition, they took Hatcher’s personal journal, a letter and envelopes.

Some of these documents were ordered confidential in the court, the motion said.

Bowen and Hatcher contend the officers violated Hatcher’s lawyer-client privilege, because they took his confidential legal documents; that they denied Hatcher his right to an adequate defense; and also prevented Hatcher from having a fair trial, because he could not gather more documents for his case.

But Britt said Hatcher still has to prove that the deputies took items out of his cell. He said that even if they did, it still would not prevent Hatcher from having a fair trial.

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