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Emotional testimony continues in cold case disappearance of Kirsten Hatfield

OKLAHOMA CITY - As the minutes ticked by, the testimony became more emotional for the family of Kirsten Hatfield to hear Thursday.

Hatfield disappeared in the middle of the night back in May of 1997 from her Midwest City home.

Kirsten Hatfield

At the time, she was just 8 years old.

Although authorities searched the area, Hatfield was never seen again.

Officers found a pair of her panties with blood on them in the backyard and some trace amounts of blood on the partially opened window to her bedroom.

It was considered a cold case until two years ago when advanced DNA testing on the blood found on Hatfield's underwear matched a neighbor.

In 2015, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater officially charged 57-year-old Anthony Palma with first-degree murder and felony kidnapping related to the Hatfield case.

Anthony Joseph Palma

Palma lived two doors down from Hatfield and still lived there at the time of his arrest.

Thursday, detectives discussed the reopening of the case and how they narrowed down DNA from at least 24 men to just Palma.

Detective Darrell Miller talked about his interview with Palma, who denied any involvement in Hatfield's disappearance.

He admitted to hearing his dogs bark around 2 or 3 a.m. but went back to sleep.

Miller said, during his arrest, he monitored all Palma's jail phone calls, including one just a month into his arrest where Palma tried to kill himself.

Miller told the court that was back in November 2015. Palma told his then wife he tried to cut his wrists with some metal he found in his cell.

Thursday, Palma sat quietly in court.

Emotions ran high when prosecution asked Midwest City Evidence Technician Nicole Poplin to remove Hatfield's underwear from an evidence envelope, the same underwear found in 1997 in the family's backyard.

Poplin then stood up and walked to the jury, showing them the sealed underwear.

It was that moment when Hatfield's mother, Shannon Hazen, filled with emotion, turned her head and began to cry.

Testimony will resume Friday.