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First-degree murder trial begins Monday

Published:   |   Updated: March 16, 2014 at 12:32 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - People who saw Joey Lynn Hattenbrun's beaten body on a September night in 2011 said she looked like she had been run over by a truck, or had fallen down a flight of stairs.

Investigators later learned Hattenbrun, a 30-year-old pharmacy technician and mother, had been beaten with a blunt object repeatedly on her head and arms.

She was discovered by her husband, his friend and her young son shortly after 10 p.m. near her car at her 6492 Owl Road home in Brooksville.

She was flown to a Tampa hospital, where she died from her injuries. She never regained consciousness after the attack, court documents show.

The trial of her accused killer - Brett Hattenbrun, her 63-year-old father-in-law - begins Monday.

Hattenbrun was shot by Detective Bryan Faulkingham 11 days after the slaying, after authorities say Hattenbrun threw a fire bomb at members of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office who arrived at his 7043 Owl Road home to serve a search warrant. Hattenbrun also used a high-power nail gun to shoot nails at Faulkingham, Sgt. Phil Lakin, detectives Jill Morrell and John Ellis, and Deputy Rosemary DeJesus, sheriff's officials say.

Hattenbrun's wound was not life-threatening, but during the ride to St. Joseph's Hospital he told paramedics he wanted law enforcement officials to shoot and kill him, according to court documents. Hattenbrun said at the time he should be arrested, not on his way to the hospital, documents say.

A psychiatrist, Kenneth Sladkin, said Hattenbrun had been paranoid about police coming to his house and accusing him of killing Joey Hattenbrun.

Hattenbrun at the hospital denied being involved in his daughter-in-law's slaying, according to a deposition given in 2012 by Detective Randy Williamson. But as sheriff's investigators were getting ready to leave St. Joseph's, Hattenbrun asked to speak with Lakin.

"He said he wanted to go ahead and tell him," Williamson said. "And then he goes into this explaining how it happened, how he ended up getting a pipe or something out of the back of the truck and hitting her with it and then disposing of it at Tire Kingdom where he worked."

On Sept. 28, 2011, Hattenbrun was arrested on charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, three counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and two counts of throwing a destructive device.

A grand jury subsequently indicted Hattenbrun on pre-meditated first-degree murder and robbery with a deadly weapon charges.

According to an arrest affidavit, Hattenbrun removed Joey Hattenbrun's engagement and wedding rings and her wallet after the attack. Sheriff Al Nienhuis said at the time Hattenbrun was upset with his daughter-in-law over marital issues between her and his son, Chad Hattenbrun, and that he stole the belongings to make the beating appear like a robbery.

In a deposition, Chad Hattenbrun told attorneys his seven-year marriage had turned stagnant, with he and his wife working too much and on different shifts.

Joey Hattenbrun was having an "emotional relationship" with a man she met online playing Words with Friends, her friend Sandra Liebl said in a deposition. The man "made her feel wanted," Liebl said.

Chad Hattenbrun believed his wife was cheating on him, Liebl said, and had a heated confrontation with his wife's friend in a Publix grocery store about two weeks before her death.

Liebl also said Brett Hattenbrun "verbally attacked" his daughter in law, and chastised her for not helping to build a family home in the neighborhood while she was eight months pregnant.

Jury selection is set to begin Monday morning. Hattenbrun's attorney, Alan Fanter of the Public Defender's Office, asked for 12 jurors and two alternates to be selected in a recent hearing.

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