Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 1, 2014

Sentencing date set for first-degree murder and conspiracy case

WELCH — McDowell County authorities have scheduled sentencing in early March for a man convicted last month on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges related to the July 17, 2012 homicide of War Mayor Dr. Thomas Clark Hatcher.

Earl Click, 27, of Grundy, Va., was found guilty of murder in the first degree with a recommendation of mercy by a jury that returned a verdict on Feb. 5, after about 88 minutes of deliberation.

The jury also found Click guilty of felony conspiracy, following a six-day trial in the court of McDowell County Circuit Court Judge Booker T. Stephens.

The court scheduled Click’s sentencing for 10 a.m., on March 12. McDowell County Prosecuting Attorney Edward Kornish said that in a life with mercy sentence, an inmate can become eligible for parole after serving 15 years.

“Just because an inmate is eligible for parole, that does not mean the parole board will grant parole,” Kornish said.

“The felony conspiracy conviction carries an indeterminate sentence of 1-5 years,” Kornish said.

Hatcher, 72, was found dead at his home in War after city employees became concerned that he didn’t show up for work on the morning of July 17, 2012.

The state Medical examiner ruled Hatcher’s death a homicide, but Click’s defense counsel, Ronald Hasan argued that the mayor died of natural caused.

Click was found guilty of conspiring to kill the mayor with his sister, Rebecca Lynn (Click) Hatcher, 32, who was found not guilty of first-degree murder on Nov. 6, 2013.

The jury was deadlocked on Hatcher’s conspiracy charge and her new trial on felony conspiracy is scheduled for June 2.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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