Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office

Brackett responds to Hatch lawyer’s ‘disappointment’

Posted:  Monday, November 27, 2017 - 10:30am

Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett responded to a comment Kenneth Hatch III’s attorney Richard Elliott made after Hatch’s jury deadlocked on 20 of the 22 charges against his client Nov. 20.

Elliott said he was disappointed with the response of Lincoln County during the trial, saying he would have hoped the county would have reached out to support Hatch during that time.

In an interview Nov. 21, Brackett said he was surprised at Elliott’s comments. “While I have the greatest respect for Mr. Elliott as a defense attorney, it is hard for me to imagine what he thinks I could have or should have done differently,” he said. “We were in an incredibly difficult situation. We had an employee under indictment for very serious crimes. We were bound by laws regarding employment of one of our officers. It would have not only been unethical, but illegal, for me to say anything one way or the other. I couldn’t say things I might have liked to say.”

Brackett said that, out of respect for Hatch, he had left Hatch on indefinite unpaid leave from the time of the indictment in summer 2016 until the trial, not initiating the process that would exonerate,  discipline, or remove Hatch from his position. “We could have started this process months ago. Our internal investigation is complete. But it seemed like he had enough on his plate, so we decided to hold off until the end of the trial. We decided to let justice play itself out.”

He did not say when the disciplinary process would begin, but indicated he would likely not wait until a second trial, if any, is over. “We’ll continue to move the process forward. This can’t drag on for years. It’s in everybody’s interest to put this to rest one way or the other.”

Brackett said the county had done everything it could do, including a last-minute search for records on the Hatch case.

Hatch continues on indefinite unpaid leave as a deputy for now.  His legal case will be reconsidered at a status conference Dec. 20, after the prosecution meets with the alleged victims and the major crimes division.