Convicted wife killer Perry Lee Hatcher was sentenced to life in prison Monday by Liberty County Superior Court Judge Paul Rose.
Hatcher, a soldier from Fort Stewart, was found guilty on one count of felony murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of cruelty to children in the third degree by a jury during a week-long trial last month at the Liberty County Justice Center.
Hatcher will serve a mandatory 30 years before he is eligible for parole.
During last month’s trial, Hatcher tried to convince the jury that his wife, Dashea Hatcher, also a soldier, had committed suicide after a domestic dispute on Nov. 5, 2014, at their apartment on South Main Street in Hinesville.
But the jury believed the expert witnesses, autopsy reports and testimony provided by Hinesville Police Detective Cpl. Gail Poulsen.
Testimony indicated Hatcher was cheating on his spouse. But Hatcher also became enraged when his wife, along with the couple’s newborn son, appeared to be leaving to move in with family
In Monday’s sentencing hearing Dashea Hatcher’s mom and aunt took the stand.
“She gave me a reason to live and when she died I lost everything,” Dashea Hatcher’s aunt, Safiya McAllister said, looking directly at Perry Hatcher.
Family members hugged and cried in the back of the courtroom as McAllister spoke about the compassionate and loving nature of her niece.
She said today was about honoring her memory. McAllister said the entire family welcomed Hatcher because of her niece and he betrayed them all.
McAllister added that the worst part of the tragedy is that Dashea Hatcher’s son, who was just weeks old when she was murdered, will never get to see or know his mother.
She added the family will one day have to tell the boy that it was his father who killed his mother.
“I cannot hate you because I love your son,” McAllister said. “But I pray you live long enough for you to regret what you have done.”
“I play that moment over and over and over in my head…you stole her from me,” Vashon Henneghan said, noting to this day she can’t fathom or understand why Hatcher killed her daughter.
Henneghan said the entire family welcomed Hatcher in as their own despite his flaws simply because Dashea Hatcher loved him.
She said it angered her to hear Hatcher lie and try to convince the family, and later the court and jury, that his wife had committed suicide.
She said Hatcher simply wanted to control everyone and live on his own terms. And that he couldn’t handle that his wife was ready to leave and start anew.
“Her family and friends knew she was stronger…Did she intimidate you...She was ready to leave (you)…why didn’t you just let her go?” Henneghan said while wiping away tears and visibly shaken.
She said her grandson will grow up and know the love of his mother.
She said he would be told just how wonderful his mother was. She added it’s tragic that he would grow up without a mom and dad and later have to face the truth about what happened.
“You missed and you will continue to miss all of his firsts,” Henneghan said.
Public defender Luke Moses called three witnesses on behalf of Hatcher.
All said they were
“battle buddies” of Hatcher during their military career.
All three described Hatcher as a hard-working, dependable man and exemplary soldier. Moses told the judge Hatcher had no prior criminal record nor history of violence.
Atlantic Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Abigail Long said the state was requesting the maximum sentence of life without parole.
Hatcher stood up before sentencing and addressed the family directly, “I’m sorry that everyone has to be here today…My condolences…No one should have to lose someone so special due to a tragic accident.”
“This was no accident,” Rose replied.
He listed evidence that Hatcher tried to conceal to make his crime appear as suicide.
Rose said it was clear that the defendant refused to take responsibility for his actions.
“This was a brutal, heartless crime…you have no remorse…I wonder if you even have a heart.”
Hatcher was sentenced to life for the murder count. The aggravated assault sentence merges in with the murder sentence.
Hatcher was also sentenced to 12 months to run consecutive to the first two counts for the cruelty to child charge.