The trial of Joseph Scott Hatley, the man accused of killing a Stephenville woman 20 years ago, has been reset to begin Oct. 15 in the 266th Judicial District Court.

Hatley is accused of killing Susan Jeanette Woods in her home in 1987.

The trial was postponed earlier this summer after the state filed a motion to amend the original murder indictment that would allow the state to argue that Hatley killed Woods during an attempted sexual assault. District Attorney John Terrill presented the amended motion to an Erath County grand jury, who then returned a “true” bill.

During Hatley’s arraignment Monday, Judge Don Jones addressed several pre-trial motions made by both the state and defense. Despite vigorous objections by Hatley’s court-appointed attorney, Alan Nash, Judge Jones granted the prosecution’s request to travel out of state to interview Hatley’s wife and daughter for testimony that could be used in the trial. Terrill said Hatley’s wife has multiple sclerosis and is too sick to make the trip to Texas to testify.

If Hatley is convicted, he faces five to 99 years to life in prison. The trial is expected to last about one week.

SARA VANDEN BERGE covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.