Crime

Grand jury to review Stephen Hagin capital murder case

By Robin Fitzgerald

rfitzgerald@sunherald.com

Stephen Hagin, 28, was arrested Dec. 30, 2016, by Harrison County Sheriff's Office on charges of murder and grand larceny of a motor vehicle.
Stephen Hagin, 28, was arrested Dec. 30, 2016, by Harrison County Sheriff's Office on charges of murder and grand larceny of a motor vehicle.

Stephen Hagin shot Brian Bachtel in his left ear and robbed him of meth because he didn’t have $100 to buy the drug,  a Harrison County sheriff’s investigator testified Tuesday.

Judge Gaston Hewes Jr. ordered the capital murder case bound over to a grand jury at a preliminary hearing in Harrison County Court.

Hagin,  26,  is held with no bond. He is accused of killing Bachtel,  a 38-year-old Saucier resident,  in June.

Capital murder is a killing that occurs during the act of another felony. The underlying charge in this case is robbery. Capital murder is punishable by death or life without parole.

Herman Cox,  county prosecuting attorney,  said an investigator testified the evidence shows Hagin planned to rob Bachtel of meth and used a shotgun an acquaintance kept on his tractor in the rural Pass Christian neighborhood of Bell Creek Road.

Bachtel was last seen June 2 when he borrowed a woman’s car. The woman later called his family to say he hadn’t returned. He was reported missing June 15.

Deputies found his skeletal remains and the car June 20 after investigators received a call from a confidential informant. The informant said Hagin and his girlfriend had been living with a couple in Lyman,  and Hagin had bragged about killing Bachtel and threatened to kill them if they told anyone.

Hagin,  who has triangle-shaped tattoos above and below his left eye,  was on probation for a grand larceny conviction. Deputies arrested him on a probation warrant and took his girlfriend,  23-year-old Amber Slocum,  into protective custody.

Slocum told investigators Hagin had planned the robbery and she was going with him but they argued and she left,  according to testimony.

Investigators arrested Slocum on a charge of accessory after the fact to murder. She is held on a $100,000 bond.

Slocum told them where they could find the body and the car,  Cox said.

Deputies went to a home on Bell Creek Road and saw the car’s tail lights in woods. They found Bachtel’s remains nearby. The car and his remains had been covered with limbs and brush.

The evidence,  Cox said,  shows Bachtel was shot at close range inside the car and his body was dragged out. He said deputies found a bloody shotgun under a bed at the home of the unsuspecting acquaintance.

"This defendant killed a man just to get meth, " Cox said. "This just shows how destructive the drug can be."

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