A Seminole County jury found James Hataway guilty on all charges Friday evening.
Hataway Takes Stand
The jury decided that Hataway was guilty of attempted first-degree premeditated murder, burglary of a conveyance with a battery, false imprisonment and robbery.
Hataway was accused of attacking Rachael Clarke in August 2008 in Seminole County. Clarke was left in a neck brace with scratches and bruises all over her body.
Hataway took the stand Friday morning and claimed he never meant to hurt Clarke. He said the incident started with a hug.
“She was giving me a hug and at that point, she started screaming and she pushed me off of her and she said, ‘Stop, you’re hurting me,’” Hataway said.
Hataway claimed he “didn’t know what was going on,” so he chased after the woman when she ran down the street.
“She saw me coming up and she started screaming … she says, ‘Help he’s trying to kill me,’” Hataway said. “I said, ‘I’m not trying to kill you.’”
Hataway denies that he then shoved Clarke’s head into the ground.
“It’s possible I got my hands near her face to calm her down,” he said.
Hataway is linked to the disappearance of 27-year-old Tracy Ocasio. He was the last person seen with her when they left a Metrowest bar in May 2009.
Hataway said he doesn’t know what happened to Ocasio. Ocoee police said he’s a suspect in her disappearance, but he has not been charged.
“I’m happy as hell,” said Joanne Clarke, the victim’s mother.
Rachael’s mom said after her daughter relived the 2008 attack Tuesday, she couldn’t bear to be in the same room as Hataway for the verdict.
“It’s way too much,” said Joanne Clarke.
Plenty of others, like Liz and Joe Ocasio, were there to celebrate the outcome of the week-long trial.
“That brave girl today, not only did she get lucky getting away, she put a monster behind bars where he belongs,” said father Joe Ocasio.
“Once we find Tracy, we’ll know where he is, so we can go after him. He didn’t get away that time and he’s not going to get away this next time either,” said mother Liz Ocasio.
Hataway’s friend, Dallas White, said he is disgusted by the verdict. “If he wanted to hurt that girl, that girl would have been dead. That guy is 10 times stronger than me. He’s a big teddy bear,” said White.
Rachael Clarke stood in front of a full gallery and testified about an event that almost stole her life.
She pointed her finger at James Hataway who she said tried to kill her after she gave him a ride home from a party in Casselberry in 2008.
Hataway sat in handcuffs in the courtroom, freshly shaven and bald with a vacant look on his face for most of the day.
For a portion of the hearing, Clarke stood in front of the jury and demonstrated how she said Hataway tried to kill her. She put her hands around an Assistant State Attorney’s throat and said, “He wouldn’t let go of me.”
Clarke added, “I felt like he was trying to break my neck.”
Hataway is also the sole suspect in the disappearance of an Ocoee woman named Tracy Ocasio and the death of an Orlando man named Onda Christopher George. In the courtroom were the parents of both.
When asked how she could handle looking at the man investigator believe is responsible for the death of her daughter, Mrs. Ocasio said, “I ask myself that everyday.”
If convicted Hataway faces life in prison.
Now we have to hold on to hope that He will come clean with what he knows about the missing Florida woman, Tracy Ocasio. She was last seen with Hataway and has not been seen since the night they left a club together.
Christopher George, a friend of James Hataway went missing around the same time Tracy Ocasio did and his remains were believed to be found in Apopka
, Florida. His personal belongings were discovered, and the missing link to his disappearance all centers around James Hataway. Georges Mother was able to identify the affects of having belonged to her son Chris George.
What’s next? Possibly hoping that James Hataway will attempt to get some sort deal in order to get a lesser sentence.