District Judge Stephen Quinn on Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss the case against an accused child molester.
Larry Hatcher, 48, faces 116 counts of child molestation. He is scheduled to stand trial for a second time in March. Jurors in October were unable to reach a verdict.
In a Nov. 6 motion filed with the court, the defense alleged prosecutorial misconduct through the claim employees from the prosecutor’s office entered the jury room following the first trial in an effort to gain access to the jurors’ notes.
Prosecutors have said they were attempting to make contact with jurors to schedule interviews and were also seeking to know the split of the jury in the mistrial.
Quinn told the court he saw no evidence of wrongdoing.
“No jurors were present and the employees went into the ante room (of the jury room) to ascertain the jury split. The notes were not reviewed and were not even seen.
During the two-hour hearing, Quinn also heard a motion to move the trial to Portales.
Prosecutors argued comments from the defendant’s brother to the Clovis News Journal should be considered prejudicial and warrant moving the trial.
Defense attorney Randall Harris told the court he opposes the motion for a change of venue, but asked the judge if he decides to move the trial, that he move it outside the judicial district, referring to Portales as a conservative community whose newspaper is owned by Freedom New Mexico, also the parent company of the Clovis News Journal.
Quinn will render a decision after he reviews the arguments and motions for a change of venue.
Also, Harris informed the court he will withdraw as counsel in the case. He did not elaborate on his reason for withdrawing.