Last updated: March 11. 2014 6:54AM - 370 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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LOGAN — March 14 has been set as the trial date for Logan’s head boys basketball coach Mark Hatcher. The trial is set for 1:30 p.m. Hatcher, 43, of Logan, is charged with assaulting Chapmanville police officer N.D. Tucker during a brawl at the Logan-Scott game at Chapmanville Regional High School on December 14, 2013.

The highly-successful LHS coach has been accused of assaulting Tucker while both were apparently trying to break-up a fight between players. After a missed shot, players for both teams became entangled and punches were thrown on the court. Hatcher maintains he went onto the court, pursuant to West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (SSAC) rules, to separate the players and escort his team members back to the bench.

But video of the game shows Hatcher apparently pushed Tucker, although the shove may have been accidental. Tucker alleged in his complaint that Hatcher pushed him as he tried to lead the coach back to the bench.

The arrest sparked considerable controversy with Hatcher supporters maintaining the coach was “targeted” by the Chapmanville police because of animosity between the two Logan County communities. CRHS officials maintain the officers were only doing their duty.

Some have also maintained that police “officers cannot go onto a basketball court or athletic field without being “beckoned by game officials. But the SSAC says they have no such rule and police officials are adamant that officers can enforce all laws within their jurisdiction.

Logan County magistrates recused themselves from presiding over the case because of their long-time connections with the accused and his family. Hatcher’s father is Alan Hatcher, head boys basketball coach at CRHS and his step-father is Logan Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant. The case has been assigned to Logan’s other circuit judge, Roger Perry.

Logan Prosecutor John Bennett also recused himself from the case. Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Gabehart is now serving as prosecutor for the case. The special magistrate is Jerry Flanagan of Mercer County.

Hatcher was initially released on $2,500 personal recognizance bond. He is being represented by Logan attorney Robert Ilderton.

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