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Gerald Hatcher

Other Marion County, Indiana exonerations
Late in the afternoon of November 12, 1977, two men held up G and G Family Store in Indianapolis, Indiana. The store security guard, 54-year-old Virgil Kellermeyer, pulled out his revolver and was shot in the neck by one of the robbers. Kellermeyer fired back, and witnesses said one of the robbers may have been wounded. The robbers escaped with a wallet, Kellermeyer’s wristwatch, and cash taken from Kellermeyer and two other individuals. Kellermeyer suffered serious gunshot wounds to his neck, right hand, and left shoulder.

Two store employees described the gunman as a Black man between the ages of 22 and 25, six feet tall, and weighing approximately 170 to 175 pounds. They said he had a slender build and medium complexion, with brown eyes and black hair. They described his boots as black chukka-style with a fleece lining. Indianapolis police officer Thomas Rodgers arrived and shared this description over the police radio. Deputy Bonnie Schubert of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office heard the broadcast.

Two days later, on November 14, 24-year-old Gerald Hatcher sought treatment at an Indianapolis hospital for a gunshot wound in his buttocks. Police were notified, and Schubert arrived soon after. She interviewed Hatcher, who, after some reluctance to speak, eventually said he was shot during an alley dice game. The driver’s license and social security card he provided to Schubert listed his name as William T. Smith, but there were discrepancies between his physical appearance and the information on the license, as well as inconsistencies between the social security number associated with the license and the number on the social security card.

Schubert later described Hatcher as becoming excited, loud, and uncooperative when she questioned him, and she arrested him for disorderly conduct. Schubert took possession of items in his hospital room, including his boots, which fit the general description of the boots given by witnesses to the robbery, and a wristwatch.

On December 3, 1977, Hatcher was charged with the G and G Family Store robbery.

On May 30, 1978, Hatcher stood in a lineup and was identified by several witnesses as one of the robbers.

Hatcher’s jury trial began in November 1978 in the Criminal Court of Marion County with Special Judge Sam Blum presiding. Public defender Charles Beck represented Hatcher. Deputy Prosecutor Judith D. Katz prosecuted the case.

Although Beck had filed a pretrial notice of alibi, he did not enter any evidence to support the alibi. Photos of the lineup were introduced as evidence, and several witnesses testified that they had identified Hatcher in that lineup.

On November 22, 1978, the jury convicted Hatcher of two counts of armed robbery and one count of armed robbery resulting in bodily injury. On December 14, 1978, Judge Blum sentenced Hatcher to 90 years in prison. This sentence included 50 years for the robbery of and injury to Kellermeyer and 20 years each for the robbery of the two other individuals, to be served consecutively.

The court appointed Joseph Shikany as counsel for Hatcher’s appeal. Shikany was assisted by Robert Hammerle. In the appeal, Hatcher argued that his Miranda rights had been violated and that the court had erred in sentencing him separately for each of the three counts of robbery. On September 26, 1980, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the convictions.

On July 5, 1988, Hatcher filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the criminal division of the Marion County Superior Court. Later that month, during an evidentiary hearing before Judge Webster L. Brewer, Hatcher testified that he did have an alibi.

Hatcher testified that he was at his sister’s house at the time of the crime and was later shot while playing craps. He testified that both his sister’s neighbors and the other participants of the dice game could have testified to corroborate his alibi.

The court found the evidence credible, and ruled that Hatcher’s trial defense lawyer had provided an inadequate legal defense. The judge also found that Hatcher’s appellate lawyer had failed him for not raising the issue on appeal. Hatcher’s conviction was vacated on August 16, 1988.

On January 11, 1989, Marion County Prosecutor Stephen Goldsmith filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against Hatcher. The court granted the motion.

In October 2020, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute denied Hatcher’s request for compensation.

“I’m going to keep fighting all the way until the day I die,” Hatcher told a news reporter after his claim was denied. “I’m not going to stop trying to see justice in my case.” He appealed the denial, but the decision was upheld.

– Meghan Barrett Cousino

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Posting Date: 5/1/2023
Last Updated: 5/1/2023
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:Other Violent Felony
Reported Crime Date:1977
Sentence:90 years
Age at the date of reported crime:24
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No