KATHRYN K. HATFIELD
JOHN B. HATFIELD. JR
CYNTHIA A. HATFIELD
June 14, 1999
Route 1, Box
I am in receipt of
your letter of June 8, 1999.
In the first
paragraph of your letter you say you have made many requests of
David and me through your family. I am sorry to have to inform you
that absolutely no requests have been made of me either directly
from you or through your family since you were sentenced to life in
I saw your parents
when Ted tried to withdraw his guilty plea but your Mom declined to
talk to me. Your dad and I spoke briefly about Ted's intention to
appeal if the judge ruled against him. Neither of them asked me to
do anything on your behalf.
In the second
paragraph of your letter you say that you were never told your
rights or the law on the substance of motions made on your behalf.
You also say that at one point you were told to "shut up" when you
asked questions. You further assert that there was valuable
information that went "unintroduced."
disagree with all of those assertions. In 25 years as a lawyer I
personally have never spent more time with a client who was confined
than you. The prosecution made full disclosure before trial and
every document was either shown to you or described to you.
Please recall that I made a motion to have you released on bond and it was denied by the judge based upon threats allegedly made by Ted to various material witnesses.
Kimble Page Two
In the third
paragraph of your letter you express 'dissatisfaction' with much of
what was done and not done on your behalf.
Let me remind you
that you never expressed dissatisfaction with my performance to me
personally. In fact, while we waited for the jury to decide your
guilt or innocence, you thanked David and me. We all hoped you would
be found not guilty and we were all disappointed when the jury
decided against you.
during the preparation for your trial we discussed the possibility
of a plea to Second Degree Murder and Arson. You could have received
a sentence of between 125 and 196 months for Second Degree Murder
and between 51 and 80 months for First Degree Arson. It is possible
that you could have negotiated a plea in the range of 157 to 275
months rather than life without parole. David and I explained to you
that any plea bargain would be based upon your testifying against
Ted. You understood that very well and you repeatedly said "Why
would I plead guilty to something I did not do?"
On one occasion
you told your parents and the Stumps that I was urging you to plead
guilty against your will. I explained to you that my duty as a
lawyer included exploring the possibility of a plea bargain. You
told me you understood I was only doing my job and we had no further
discussions about pleas because that is how you wanted it.
You say you were
'kept in the dark during your trial.' This is false, Ronnie, as you
well know. You and I spent numerous hours together discussing your
case. David Lloyd also spent numerous hours with you which he
documented when he applied to the court for his fee.
created problems for us in your trial:
(1) Your visit to
Mitch Whidden's house in Lynchburg and your acknowledged
conversation with him about a dream you had about your
sister-in-law's shooting death.
(2) The statements you made in writing to Janet Smith including a statement that you would essentially lie to protect her.
Kimble Page Three
most of the evidence concerning Janet Smith was kept away from the
jury as a result of David's and my objections, the jury believed
Mitch Whidden and his wife and felt that you had confessed to the
murder of your sister-in-law.
You and I
spent many hours preparing you for your-confrontation with Dick
Panosh. I warned you that you could never be perceived to be lying
by the jury if you wanted to win, I warned you not to match wits
with Panosh. You denied attending Ted's wedding under oath and then
had to eat your words when Panosh produced a picture of you at the
David and I
fought hard for you every day of your trial. We thoroughly prepared
for cross examination of every witness. Unfortunately, witnesses
like the Whiddens and Jerry Falwell impressed the jury. You spent
more than a day on the witness stand and your testimony obviously
impressed the jury also.
found guilty of First Degree Murder by a jury that spared your life
when they could have put you on death row. You went to trial with
the 100 percent support of the Stump family and David and me.
Everyone tried as hard as possible to secure your acquittal. We are
grateful that the jury spared your life so that you can serve God in
your own way for the rest of your life.
I hope you
do not believe "jail house lawyers" and other inmates who think that
you can obtain a new trial by claiming ineffective assistance of
counsel. Putting aside my own efforts on your behalf, David Lloyd
was extraordinarily well prepared.
I will be glad to withdraw from your appeal if you want me to. David and I agreed that he would do most of the work preparing the record and the brief and that I would serve as a
Kimble Page Four
Very truly yours,
John B. Hatfield, Jr.
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