Robert Steven Hatch's behavior 'suspect'

Published: Thursday, Oct. 16 2003 6:36 a.m. MDT

PROVO — For a man who police say shot his estranged wife in cold blood only an hour before, Robert Steven Hatch didn't appear to be in a hurry while driving through Helper in the early morning hours of July 8, 2002.

"He was driving 5-10 miles under the speed limit," Officer Steven Anderson told a 4th District courtroom Wednesday during the fourth day of testimony in Hatch's murder trial.

An officer for the Helper Police Department, Anderson testified that he noticed Hatch's truck after receiving an order to locate a suspect — one who had allegedly shot Sharee Hatch twice at close-range after breaking into her Spanish Fork home late July 7, 2002.

"All I recall is that it was suspicious enough for me to call in the vehicle," Anderson said of Hatch's driving mannerisms that night. "It was more than a normal person would look in their rear view mirror at a police officer following them."

Prosecutors say that behavior — and the fact that Hatch was wearing socks they say they will link to evidence they plan to present later in the trial — is further proof he murdered Sharee Hatch.

Attorneys for Robert Hatch, however, cite Anderson's testimony that Hatch had taken time to assist a family with car problems at a Helper gas station shortly before his arrest as evidence that Hatch has no connection with the crime.

Instead, the defense is pointing a finger at Sharee Hatch's live-in boyfriend, Mike Pino, as the most likely suspect. Pino was in the home at the time of the shooting and has told police he was searching for a gun in a walk-in closet when an intruder burst into Sharee Hatch's bedroom and fired two shotgun blasts at short range, killing the woman. He told police he did not see the intruder.

"I just stayed there. I just couldn't believe what was going on," Pino testified as he returned to the witness stand on Wednesday. "I just stood there. I wasn't doing anything."

Pino's testimony concerning his involvement with an alleged forged check on Tuesday was cut short when 4th District Judge Fred Howard halted questioning and suggested Pino consult with an attorney before continuing. On Wednesday, Pino was accompanied by an attorney and on several occasions he invoked his fifth amendment right against self incrimination.

However, Hatch's defense attorney, Jack Morgan, suggested that the check, which was dated July 7, 2002 — the day of the murder — was actually written two weeks after the murder, on July 22, 2002. Pino implied that he was simply trying to reclaim money he had deposited into Sharee Hatch's bank account to assist with house payments, a common practice during their relationship. He refused to give direct answers, however, citing his Fifth Amendment right.

Pino also defended changes in the accounts he gave to police over the course of the investigation. He initially told police that he saw a man in a black clothing who matched the build of Robert Hatch during the shooting. Later, he admitted that he saw nothing from inside the closet.

"I had difficulty remembering what I did actually (see) — (I) just didn't remember things," Pino explained. "I don't know why. I was feeling a lot of emotions all at once."

Spanish Fork police officers who arrived on the scene confirmed Pino's frazzled state, testifying that he appeared "hysterical," "sad" and "scared."

"He wasn't crying," testified Springville officer John Jackson. "He was more screaming, 'Help me! She's upstairs! Help her!' "

Jackson said he ran up the stairs to help the mother of four but discovered that Sharee Hatch was beyond help.

"I judged that she had a gunshot wound to her chest — that she had a massive gunshot wound to her face — that she was deceased," Jackson said. "Her eyes were open, but glazed over."

The trial is scheduled to resume on Friday.


E-mail: lwarner@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS