An East Tennessee woman was able to fight off an alleged home intruder with a baseball bat in an incident that police called “justifiable self-defense.”
Kingsport Police said the incident happened around 9 p.m. on April 29 when a female resident answered the door to find a woman holding a flyer about a lost dog.
When she opened the door, a masked man stepped into the doorway, grabbed her arm, and attempted to pull her outside, police said.
At some point, he allegedly pushed her back inside and shouted, “this is a robbery.”
During the struggle, she ripped off his mask and identified the suspect as Joe M. Sotello, a longtime family friend. She grabbed a baseball bat and fought back in what police called “clearly justifiable self-defense.”
Two 18-year-olds were also in the home and helped the woman. They drove him out of the home onto the front lawn. His alleged accomplice, whom police identified as his girlfriend, fled in a car.
Police said Sotello could not escape the women and was forced to flee on foot. He was eventually arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.
According to investigators, he confessed to the crime, saying he’d “been going through some hard times.”
"As an interesting side note, the victim was, at only 4 feet 11 inches tall, one entire foot shorter than her attacker and weighed nearly 100 pounds less than her him. At 52 years old, she was also 18 years older than him. Yet, despite being at a clear physical disadvantage, she successfully defended herself and her home from Mr. Sotello’s unprovoked attack,” police said in a release.
His girlfriend turned herself in and reportedly confessed that her limited involvement had been done out of fear. She has not been charged.
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