BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — A man charged with assaulting a deputy last year has been acquitted by a Mecosta County jury.
Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch says James Alan Hatchew was found not guilty in court Wednesday.
Hatchew was accused of breaking a deputy’s nose after refusing to return snowmobiles to their owner in February 2021.
The law firm says Hatchew held multiple snowmobiles for an acquaintance and kept them in good condition for about 10 years. We’re told their owner rarely used the snowmobiles or kept in touch with Hatchew about them until last February when they asked to have them back.
Hatchew was upset when the owner asked for them back without payment, the law firm explains. They say a deputy with the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office arrived amid the dispute, at which point Hatchew voluntarily permitted the deputy inside to see the snowmobiles involved.
Eyewitness reports of what happened after that vary, according to Springstead Bartish Borgula & Lynch. They say the deputy claimed Hatchew shoved her and slammed a door on her.
We’re told Hatchew defended himself during the two-day-long trial, saying he did not assault the deputy or resist arrest. The law firm says Hatchew was acquitted after a 90-minute deliberation period.
“The real problem here for the prosecutor, who really did the best he could with these facts, was a lack of corroboration,” says Attorney Heath Lynch. “Jurors who spoke to us after the verdict expressed that they believed there was ‘reasonable doubt’ when it came to the deputy’s story.”