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Woman uses baseball bat to fend off would-be robber, police say

KINGSPORT, Tenn. – A man suspected in a botched home invasion attempt wound up in the hospital over the weekend after police say he tried to break into a Tennessee woman’s home and was badly beaten.

Police say the 52-year-old Kingsport resident opened her door after hearing a knock Saturday night, and found a woman who appeared to be passing out flyers in search of a lost dog. When she opened the door, however, authorities say 34-year-old Joe M. Sotello, wearing a mask, jumped out and grabbed her arm, then tried to drag her outside.

When that didn’t work, according to the Kingsport Times News, he shoved her into the house and shouted, “This is a robbery!”

The woman began wrestling with Sotello and managed to pull his mask off enough to see that he was a longtime friend of the family, according to a police press release. After seeing what looked like a gun in Sotello’s waistband, the woman grabbed a baseball bat from behind the door and used it in “clearly justifiable self-defense.”

Investigators say two 18-year-old women who were in the house when the struggle broke out also helped the woman drive Sotello out.

Police say he tried to get into a car driven by the woman with the flyers, but the three women stopped him. The car’s driver was later identified as Sotello’s girlfriend, investigators said.

Sotello managed to free himself and run away, but he was later apprehended at the home of a relative of one of the three victims, where another fight broke out, according to the release. Sotello, who faces charges of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, initially refused medical treatment but was later taken to an area hospital for his injuries.

Sotello is being held on $35,000 bail. His girlfriend, who police say turned herself in and confessed that she cooperated out of fear of Sotello, has not been charged.

Kingsport police pointed out in their release that the resident was a foot shorter and 18 years older than her alleged attacker. “Yet, despite being at a clear physical disadvantage, she successfully defended herself and her home from Mr. Sotello’s unprovoked attack.”