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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Jurors hear lengthy police interview in murder case


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BROOKSVILLE - Jurors in Brett Hattenbrun's murder trial last week heard exactly what was said during his lengthy interviews with law enforcement officials.

Beginning Thursday afternoon, state prosecutors played more than 12 hours of audio interviews with Hattenbrun recorded on Sept. 27, 2011. The interview started during an ambulance drive to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa.

Hattenbrun had been shot in the abdomen after authorities said he hurled a Molotov cocktail at officials who showed up at his Owl Road home to execute a search warrant. The 63-year-old was suspected of killing his daughter-in-law, Joey Lynn Hattenbrun, 11 days earlier in her driveway.

Brett Hattenbrun is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Joey Hattenbrun, who was 30 when she died. Prosecutors say Brett Hattenbrun was angry because he believed she was cheating on his son, Chad, and confronted her as she arrived home from work and beat her with a metal pipe. He removed her wedding rings and emptied her purse in an effort to make the attack look like a robbery, Assistant State Attorney Richard Buxman has said.

Brett Hattenbrun also is charged with 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.

Earlier in the week, Brett Hattenbrun's defense attorney, Alan Fanter, asked Judge Daniel Merritt Jr. if the entire interrogation audio could be introduced as evidence. Assistant state attorneys Bill Catto and Buxman said they intended only to play portions of the interviews, and Merritt ultimately ruled the entire interview could be played, except for a few portions. Jurors did not hear detectives mention that Brett Hattenbrun failed polygraph tests.

During the hours talking to Brett Hattenbrun, Detective Randy Williamson and George Loydgren told Brett Hattenbrun he was a "firm man" who was protective and controlling, and suggested he was a sociopath.

At one point, Loydgren questioned Brett Hattenbrun's demeanor, telling him he was "as emotional as a piece of furniture."

They told Brett Hattenbrun he had hit a breaking point about 10 days after killing Joey Lynn Hattenbrun, and he snapped under pressure when Sgt. Phil Lakin banged on his door to serve the search warrant.

Brett Hattenbrun, for hours, denied killing Joey Hattenbrun. He said he loved her, even though he knows it is common not to get along perfectly with daughters-in-law.

"Whatever I can do I do for my family," Brett Hattenbrun told the detectives at one point. "I do nothing for myself."

He told the detectives he felt like he "can't say anything right."

Jurors are expected to hear about five more hours of the interrogation Monday, including what prosecutors say is Brett Hattenbrun's confession.

Brett Hattenbrun has been participating actively in his trial. He takes notes on a legal pad and followed along with a typed transcript while the police interview was played.

Brett Hattenbrun would be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted of the first-degree murder charge.

The trial is expected to continue through Tuesday.

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