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Officials: Man chased partner with minivan

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Stan Milam
July 19, 2012

— A Walworth County jury is being asked to sort out what happened July 7, 2007, when a Delavan man was arrested on a felony second-degree reckless endangerment charge.

The jury heard opening arguments Wednesday

Michael D. Hatton, 30, also is on trial for one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Both charges stem from domestic disturbances with a woman with whom he was in a relationship.

Prosecutors claim the woman was the victim in the 2007 incident and a 2011 disorderly conduct domestic disturbance. Hatton claims the woman was not the target of his behavior.

Walworth County Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo told the jury Wednesday that during the 2007 incident, Hatton at one point was walking around armed with a knife. Later, he chased the woman in a yard around his house in a minivan.

"She was afraid," Donohoo told the jury. "She ran away and called the police while she was fleeing."

Hatton's attorney, public defender Travis Schwantes, told the jury the incidents were of a different nature.

"The evidence will show that at no time did Mr. Hatton come near her with either the knife or the vehicle," Schwantes said. "In fact what happened is that they had been out that night, they had been drinking, and they got into a fight. But, the evidence will show that at no time did Mr. Hatton threaten her."

Both attorneys told the jury the relationship was stormy.

"It had its ups and downs," Schwantes said.

"Yes, she was afraid, and yes, she loves him," Donohoo said.

Charges against Hatton were dropped in 2007 when his partner did not appear at a court hearing to testify against him.

"We could not find her, and we could not meet the burden of proof without her testimony," Donohoo said. "She will be at this trial, and she will testify."

The charges in 2007 were dropped but can be reissued because a jury had not been selected.

Hatton instructed the woman not to testify, going so far as to suggest she seek a medical reason to avoid appearing in court, Donohoo said.

Schwantes challenged any suggestion that Hatton had tried to coerce the woman.

"In the 2011 incident, she was angry that money was missing," Schwantes said. "The evidence will show that she more than held her own and is not someone who can be pushed around."

The trial is expected to last at least through today and possibly into Friday.



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