Crime

Lacey woman found not guilty of murdering 2-year-old daughter

Monique Hachtel, who’s accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, will not serve prison time for murder.

After a week of deliberation, a 12-person jury found the 26-year-old Lacey woman not guilty of second-degree murder. But Hachtel will stand trial again next year on a first-degree criminal mistreatment charge because the jury couldn’t reach a consensus on that charge.

The new trial date hasn’t been set yet. Hachtel will be held in the Thurston County Jail until then, unless she is able to post $125,000 bail.

Defense attorney Richard Woodrow said his client is relieved at the outcome of the trial and remains optimistic. He said Hachtel never doubted that she would be found not guilty of the murder charge.

“What was really amazing is she’s the only client I’ve had in a murder trial who was confident all the way through,” Woodrow said. “When the jury went out, she asked me what would happen when the jury found her not guilty. For her, it was never if, it was always when.”

But the victory is bittersweet, Woodrow said. He said he and Hachtel believe that the child’s real killer won’t be held accountable.

Woodrow said he believes the jury found his client not guilty because he was able to introduce some doubts into the case.

“I think that there were two issues with the prosecution’s case,” Woodrow said. “One is that there was no proof that Monique did it. And then there was the other suspect.”

Throughout the trial, Woodrow offered up Hachtel’s brother-in-law as the real culprit.

At the time of the 2-year-old’s death, Hachtel lived in a Lacey home with the child and her two other children: a 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl. Another family also occupied the home: Hachtel’s sister-in-law, her husband and their children. In total, 11 people lived in the home.

Hachtel’s husband lives in Mexico, and she had been living with the family while saving money to move there.

According to court documents, the child was found dead in the Lacey home in the early morning of Feb. 25. An autopsy later showed that the child had a lacerated liver, contusions on her kidney and large intestine, and a skull fracture. She also had bruises on her face, arms, hands, abdomen and head.

Hachtel was arrested two days later.

During the trial, Woodrow argued that the child likely received those bruises on Feb. 22 when Hachtel’s brother-in-law and his nephew were watching soccer and looking after the children. At the time, Hachtel was helping her sister-in-law at work.

While testifying, the brother-in-law failed to mention that his nephew had been at the home, and that the two had been drinking beer and watching soccer. That detail was significant, Woodrow said. He argued that the brother-in-law assaulted the child during that time.

“(The brother-in-law) lied during the testimony about his nephew coming over,” Woodrow said. “He never brought that up to law enforcement. And I think that made the jury question everything he said.”

But during his closing statement, Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Joe Jackson said that scenario didn’t fit the timeline, and that the child would have been assaulted before Feb. 22, as Hachtel admitted to finding bruises on her daughter on Friday evening.

The only person who fit the timeline was the defendant, Jackson said.

Woodrow said he’s confident that he’ll be able to prove his client’s innocence once more during the first-degree criminal mistreatment charge.

“They’ll probably argue that Monique not taking her daughter to the doctor was mistreatment,” Woodrow said. “But now that I can focus on that charge and not the murder charge, I think I can convince the jury that she’s not guilty of that charge, too.”

Hachtel’s other two children have been in foster care since her arrest, Woodrow said, but they may be allowed to return to their father in Mexico soon. He said there will be a hearing on the matter next week in family court.

“I believe they’ll be able to finally go home,” Woodrow said.

Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Joe Jackson could not be reached for comment on this story.

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