Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Jurors hear Hernando man's recorded confession of killing daughter-in-law

BROOKSVILLE — After 10 hours of interviews with detectives, Brett Hattenbrun said he was finally ready to tell the truth.

Lying in a hospital bed on Sept. 27, 2011, Hattenbrun initially denied any involvement in 30-year-old Joey Lynn Hattenbrun's murder. Then, as Hernando sheriff's detectives were about to switch off the audio recorder and leave in the early hours of the 28th, Hattenbrun offered a matter-of-fact description of the violent encounter that left his daughter-in-law dead.

On Monday, the jury in his first-degree murder trial heard the last few hours of that recording.

Hattenbrun said he went to his son and daughter-in-law's home on Owl Road near Weeki Wachee on the night of Sept. 16 and waited for Joey Hattenbrun to get home from work. Standing in the driveway, Hattenbrun asked if she was cheating on his son, Chad. He said he also confronted her about alleged mistreatment of her 3-year-old son.

"She said, 'You don't have any business being here. This is my f- - - - - - life. I'll f- - - whoever I want to f- - - if I'm not satisfied with your son,' " Hattenbrun said.

He said she grabbed her cellphone to call police. He told her to put the phone down and grabbed a metal pipe from the bed of a nearby pickup truck, according to the recordings. She told him she'd accuse him of attempted murder and kicked him in the groin. He grabbed the phone and threw it.

"She started screaming and I just hit her until she stopped," Hattenbrun said. "I had no intentions to kill the poor thing."

But a statement Hattenbrun made minutes later indicated he was prepared for violence. He said he retrieved a pair of dish gloves from his Saturn and slipped them on so he wouldn't leave fingerprints as he scattered the contents of Joey's purse on the ground to make the attack look like a robbery.

"All the movies you watch, everybody has gloves," he said. "I just brought them with me just in case I needed them, in case there was a confrontation and there was a problem."

He said he slipped off Joey's wedding rings and dumped the pipe and gloves in a trash bin behind a Tire Kingdom on State Road 50 where he used to work. The items weren't recovered.

Hattenbrun made the statements at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. The day before, Hernando sheriff's Sgt. Phil Lakin and four co-workers showed up to search Hattenbrun's home, also on Owl Road. Hattenbrun opened the front door, tossed a Molotov cocktail at Lakin's feet, then opened fire with a nail gun. Deputies returned fire and shot Hattenbrun in the abdomen. No one else was injured.

At the hospital, Hattenbrun said he only wanted to provoke deputies into fatally shooting him. He is also being tried on two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, among other charges.

Lakin and Detectives Randy Williamson and George Loyd­gren told Hattenbrun they could prove he was responsible for Joey's death. They said he could show he wasn't a sociopathic monster by explaining what happened.

"Let us give your son the ability to forgive you. That's all you got left," Lakin said.

Assistant Public Defender Alan Fanter told jurors last week that none of the physical evidence supports the bogus confession Hattenbrun gave after being worn down by hours of questioning.

Hattenbrun faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted on the murder or attempted murder charges. Testimony continues today.

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