- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

WELCH, W.Va. (AP) - A Virginia man convicted of killing War Mayor Thomas Hatcher was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with mercy, meaning he will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years.

A McDowell County Circuit Court jury had convicted Earl Click, 27, of Grundy, Va., on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges in February. Media outlets report that he received a one-to-five-year sentence on the conspiracy conviction Wednesday. Circuit Judge Booker T. Stephens ordered the sentences to run consecutively.

Prosecutors said during the trial that Click killed Hatcher to protect his sister and co-defendant, Rebecca Hatcher, from being prosecuted for stealing from the mayor, who was her father-in-law.

Rebecca Hatcher, 32, is scheduled to be retried June 2. She was acquitted of first-degree murder last November but a mistrial was declared after the jury could not reach a verdict on a conspiracy charge.

City workers found Thomas Hatcher’s body in his home on July 17, 2012.

Prosecutors said he was smothered with a plastic bag, while the defense said the 72-year-old mayor died of natural causes.

Before he was sentenced, Click told the court that he was sorry for the Hatcher family’s loss but he did not agree with trial’s outcome.

“You can maintain your innocence … but you are not showing remorse or sorrowfulness for the events of this case,” Stephens said.

Hatcher’s sister, Jerry Roncella, asked Stephens to impose the maximum sentence and “show Earl Click the same mercy he showed my brother Thomas Hatcher when he brutally killed him.”

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