BUTTE — Adam Hatfield has denied brutally beating his father to death with a baseball bat in 2008.
Hatfield pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide in Butte district court Thursday morning. A trial date has not been set.
His father, Matt, disappeared five years ago. After an expansive investigation, including many forensic tests, prosecutors filed charges against Adam Hatfield two weeks ago.
Prosecutors say Adam Hatfield, 24, killed his father and then attempted to burn the bloody baseball bat he used in the slaying. A hiker found the top of Matt Hatfield’s skull near a campground north of Butte in October 2010. The rest of the body has not been located.
Citing DNA and other evidence taken from the skull remnants, the Roosevelt Drive cabin the two men shared, his father’s pickup truck and the baseball bat, investigators say Adam Hatfield is the killer.
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After Matt Hatfield, 49, went missing, police looking for him found blood spattered on the walls of the cabin, a stove and a nightstand, documents say.
“The detectives noted that it appeared someone had spent considerable effort attempting to cover up the fact that a violent confrontation had occurred inside of the cabin,” prosecutors wrote in charging documents.
A breakthrough in the case came in April 2012, when a private laboratory found “a high probability that the skull discovered is that of the parent of Adam Hatfield and that the skull was the donor of the DNA sample from the blood discovered inside the cabin,” court documents say. Later, a state medical examiner determined a large part of the skull was missing and that could be the result of blows from a baseball bat.
Adam Hatfield went to California soon after his father went missing. Two months ago he moved to South Dakota, where he was arrested at the convenience store where he worked. After waiving extradition, he arrived in Butte on March 9.
He remains in jail on $500,000 bond.