Crime

June 10, 2014

Merced County sheriff’s deputies involved in shooting death are identified

The names of the two Merced County sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed a 39-year-old homicide suspect in May were released Tuesday.

The names of two Merced County sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed a 39-year-old homicide suspect in May were released Tuesday.

Sgt. Dustin Witt and Deputy Adam Leuchner were identified as the deputies involved in the May 30 shooting in Turlock, according to Turlock police Sgt. Stephen Webb.

Witt, a nine-year department veteran, was recently promoted to sergeant and named Deputy of the Year in early May.

Leuchner has been with the department for six years.

Both deputies were placed on administrative leave following the incident, a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

The deputies shot and killed Brian Scott Hiatt of Mariposa about 5:20 a.m. May 30 near a motel in the 200 block of South Walnut Road. Hiatt, 49, was the prime suspect in the murders a few hours earlier of Rhonda Hiatt, 47, of Mariposa, and her sister, Lisa Robbins, 51, of Hilmar.

Both women were shot multiple times and killed just before 8 p.m. May 29 in the 11100 block of South Lander Avenue near Hilmar.

Many questions surrounding the case remain unanswered, including a motive for the double-homicide, how deputies managed to track Hiatt to the Turlock motel and whether Hiatt was armed during the confrontation with deputies.

Webb said once detectives conclude their investigation, the case will be sent to the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors will review the evidence and determine whether the officer involved shooting was justified.

Webb said the identities of officers involved in deadly incidents are typically withheld from the public during the initial stages of an investigation.

“Obviously in these types of tragic cases, we want to make sure there are no threats to deputies’ safety, which sometimes happens,” Webb said. “Once we’ve determined that isn’t going to be a factor, we can decide to release the names.”

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