Judge Greg Baxter found a Baker City man guilty of coercion and fourth-degree assault Thursday in Baker County Circuit Court.

James Robert Blitch, 48, of 2240 Fifth St., was convicted of the two Class C felonies after a day-and-a-half-long trial, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff stated in a press release.

Baxter acquitted Blitch of one other count of felony assault.

Blitch was convicted of coercion for keeping Tattiana McKenzie in an apartment on Broadway Street (the Torrance Apartments) by threatening her with physical injury if she left the apartment, Shirtcliff said. Baxter also found Blitch guilty of assaulting Jason Hoecker.

During the trial, McKenzie alleged that Blitch physically kept her from leaving by tackling her and pushing her when she tried to leave.

Hoecker testified that he arrived at the scene after receiving a call from McKenzie asking for help because Blitch would not allow her to leave the apartment. Hoecker was punched by Blitch when he attempted to help McKenzie leave, Shirtcliff said.

Baxter found insufficient evidence for another count of fourth-degree assault involving Blitch injuring McKenzie.

Blitch raised the issue of self-defense and defense of property at the trial, Shirtcliff said. Blitch testified that he wouldn’t let McKenzie leave the apartment because she was stealing money from him. He also claimed he was acting in self-defense when he struck Hoecker, Shirtcliff said.

Baxter found, however, that the state had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that those defenses did not apply.

Sentencing in the case was set for Aug. 21.

“Baker City Police Sergeant Mike Regan and Officer Rand Weaver did a good job on investigating the case,” Shirtcliff stated in the press release. “We were pleased that Mr. Blitch will be held accountable for this behavior as it involved domestic violence.”

20991957