BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Former Raleigh County pharmacist, Natalie Cochran was present for an arraignment hearing on Monday at which she plead “not guilty” to First-Degree Murder charges.
Cochran appeared in Raleigh County Circuit Judge Kirkpatrick’s Courtroom on Friday, accompanied by her legal representation, attorneys Mattew Victor and Stanley Selden.
Substantial dialogue occurred between Victor and Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney, Ben Hatfield, who represented the State of West Virginia during the proceedings, regarding the state of discovery as it pertains to court proceedings.
“I think it’s important to note that the state takes exception to and disagrees with Mr. Victors recitation of the discovery status,” said Hatfield, making reference to what could be considered by some to be an excessive number of requests. “Mr. Victor has asked for everything that would be considered to remodel a kitchen sink,” Hatfield continued. “That does not mean it’s in the state’s possession, and it does not mean it’s the state’s obligation to go fetch it for him. It is items on a wish list that Mr. Victor put together and sent over to my office.”
Cochran’s representation countered, noting, “Kitchen sink aside, we do need a significant portion of the discovery from the first phase, and that discovery was listed, not on the wish list but in, a motion that we take very seriously.”
The defense revealed during the arraignment hearing that a re-exhuming of the body of Michael Cochran was being considered by the defense, despite the fact that the body was already re-exhumed for discovery last year by the state.
LOOTPRESS caught up with Hatfield following the hearing to discuss the implications of the multiple exchanges between state and defense counsels, respectively.
“I would half-jokingly, half truthfully say that it appears as if they want deadlines for me, but don’t want to have any deadlines for themselves. That’s anticipated; that’s not unique to Mr. Victor and Mr. Selden,” Hatfield tells LOOTPRESS.
“I believe that would be the desire of every defense counsel on the planet – to put the state under some deadlines that they don’t necessarily have to have to follow. But that being said, we should have deadlines. The defense absolutely, constitutionally, and certainly has a right to a fair trial, but so does the state. So, it’s important that each side gets fair and reciprocal discovery and so that’s all the state is asking.”
Hatfield also stated that he too was unaware of the defense’s intention to potentially re-exhume the body of Michael Cochran, telling members of the media,
“You heard it as I was hearing it. My thoughts are, and based on what my expert would say, I believe that would be a futile effort.”
Hatfield did note that, while he would be opposed the re-exhuming of the body based on the value – or lack thereof – of the undertaking as pertaining to establishment of clarity in the case itself, that he would defer to the judge’s decision should such a request be granted.
Several deadlines for upcoming hearings were established by Judge Kirkpatrick during the hearing, including the date of the trail itself, for which three weeks will be allotted for the proceedings. Trial dates confirmed during the hearing are as follows:
Motions Deadline for all parties – June 24, 2024
Special Hearing pertaining to the defense motion relative to a speedy trial – Thursday, February 29, 2024, – 10:00 AM
Pretrial Hearing – July 23rd, 2024, – 9:00 AM
Trial date – August 12th, 2024