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Hatfield murder trial scheduled to begin Dec. 7
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Hatfield murder trial scheduled to begin Dec. 7

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MUSCATINE — The trial of a Muscatine man accused of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend at Saulsbury Recreation Area has tentatively been set to begin Dec. 7 and is expected to last eight days.

According to a court filing, the final pretrial conference for David J.S. Hatfield is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 20 in the Muscatine County Courthouse.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed the Muscatine County Courthouse, several pretrial hearings have been held electronically. During the hearings Hatfield waived his right to a speedy trial and demanded a trial by jury. He is being defended by Derek G. Jones and Micah Johnson of the state public defender’s office.

According to the criminal charge filing, David Hatfield called 911 on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, saying Kaitlyn Palmer shot herself in the head at the Saulsbury Recreation Area in rural Muscatine County. Through the investigation and subsequent interview, the report says Hatfield admitted to shooting Palmer one time in the left side of the head/temple area with a .22-caliber handgun. Hatfield further admitted to having fired a practice shot before shooting Palmer.

Palmer was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics where she died Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

Hatfield is being held in the Muscatine County Jail on a $1 million case only bond. Murder in the first degree is a class "A" felony punishable by life imprisonment.

This incident was investigated by the Muscatine County Sheriff's Office, the Muscatine Police Department and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

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