Chris Hatcher was a psychologist who became famous as an expert in forensic psychology, specializing the field known as "profile evidence." He specialized in analyzing behavioral patterns to help predict and establish criminal motivations. Chris Hatcher was involved in many high-profile cases prior to his death in 1999.
One prominent case in which Chris Hatcher was involved concerned the trial of convicted murderer Gregory Scott Smith. In March of 1990, Gregory Scott Smith kidnapped an eight-year-old boy, who he raped and murdered. He then disposed of the body by burning it. Following a police investigation, he was arrested in October of that year and pled guilty to all charges filed against him. During the subsequent trial, he was found guilty of all charges.
In December of 1991, Chris Hatcher appeared to testify during the sentencing phase of the trial on behalf of the prosecution. Appearing in the capacity of an expert on cases involving child abduction, Chris Hatcher testified to the similarities he had determined between Smith's actions and those in other child murders which he had studied. After presenting a general overview of the hallmarks common to these types of homicides, Chris Hatcher identified similarities in Smith's actions. Under cross-examination, Chris Hatcher conceded that he was only testifying in general terms about the
psychology of child killers rather than about Smith in particular.
Smith was subsequently found guilty of the charges against him and appealed the sentence, whose validity was ultimately decided in the Supreme Court of California in 2005. In his appeal, Smith argued that the witness testimony provided by Chris Hatcher was inadmissable on several grounds. Smith questioned the legality of allowing an expert to testify about possible mental illness evident in the conduct of the defendant as an aggravating circumstance in commission of the crime. Smith also said that the testimony provided by Chris Hatcher did not sufficiently consider his mental illness, since the psychologist at no time examined him or provided a diagnosis of his mental health.
In considering the plea, the Supreme Court decided that introducing the testimony of Chris Hatcher was admissable because it helped establish the identity of Smith as both a sadist and a pedophile. In considering the plea, the Supreme Court noted that it was acceptable to introduce information concerning a defendant's mental state if it were more "probative" (meaning likely to lessen the sentence found by jurors) than "punitive" (inclining the severity of the punishment to be issued). The Supreme Court ruled that the testimony provided by Chris Hatcher was probative and therefore permissable and rejected the claim filed by Smith.
Chris Hatcher also testified in the 1985 trial of Cameron Hooker, who, along with his wife, kidnapped and sexual assaulted Colleen Stan for seven years. Chris Hatcher was one of the first witnesses to testify for the prosecution, and his testimony about Hooker and behavior patterns he manifested was considered crucial in obtaining a conviction on seven of the eight charges filed against him.