Jury Finds Robert Steven Hatch Guilty in Shotgun Murder

Jury Finds Robert Steven Hatch Guilty in Shotgun Murder

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- Robert Steven Hatch was convicted Tuesday of the shotgun murder of his estranged wife.

A jury found Hatch guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary and violation of a protective order in the July 7, 2002, death of his estranged wife, Sharee Lana Nelson Hatch, 31.

The jury began deliberations on Friday.

Hatch faces up to life in prison for the murder and burglary charges, and up to another five years for violating the protection order. He will be sentenced Dec. 23.

His defense attorneys argued that Sharee Hatch's boyfriend was at fault, but prosecutors claimed DNA evidence implicated the defendant.

They argued Robert Hatch broke into his wife's Spanish Fork home, went upstairs, kicked down the dead-bolted bedroom door and killed her with a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun.

Prosecutor Dave Wayment said Robert Hatch had accused Sharee, 31, of infidelity, they were in a custody battle over their son and there was a hearing concerning Sharee's protective order against her estranged husband.

Prosecutors said Robert Hatch scattered pieces of the murder weapon around a nearby elementary school, left his mask on a bush and had a speck of the victim's blood on his sock when he was arrested. He said DNA evidence showed that the blood was the victim's and the mask had the defendant's DNA on it.

Wayment and defense attorney Jack Morgan claimed Sharee Hatch's boyfriend was in the bedroom closet when his girlfriend was killed. They tried to implicate him or at least someone he knows in the murder.

Morgan said the boyfriend did not call 911 until 21 minutes after neighbors heard shots.

Morgan also claimed Sharee Hatch's blood could have found its way onto the sock between the time it was taken and the time it was tested.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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