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A Covington man is in intensive care while prosecutors decide whether his neighbor should be charged with a crime for hitting him over the head with a baseball bat. (KIRO Radio/Brandi Kruse)

Dad accused of hitting neighbor with bat says he's torn

A man accused of hitting his neighbor over the head with a baseball bat last week says he was only trying to get his son out of a dangerous situation.

Police in Covington say a stray soccer ball prompted a brawl between Steven and his neighbor. According to a police report, Steven's 13-year-old step-son kicked a soccer ball into the neighbor's yard. The neighbor kicked it down the street and then the kid came outside swinging a baseball bat toward the man.

Police say the teen swung the bat at the neighbor's boat. The neighbor took it from him and pinned him to the ground. That's when the boy's stepfather heard a commotion and ran outside.

"When I came running out of the house the only thing I heard was another neighbor, another bigger guy, saying 'If you f-ing move, I'll kill you, stay on the ground, I'll kill you,'" Steven told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson Show.

"The only thing I said was 'Get away from my son.' When I approached these men, he just started swinging (with) no warning, no hesitation, no words," said Steven.

"(Steven) came toward (the neighbor), taking his shirt off as he ran. (The neighbor) started backing away and swung the bat at (the boy's stepfather), striking him three times near the waist and buttocks," said Sgt. Cindi West with the King County Sheriff's Office.

According to West, Steven managed to get the baseball bat from his neighbor and struck him once on the top of the head.

The neighbor was placed in a medically-induced coma and rushed to Harborview Medical Center with a fractured skull.

Steven was arrested and booked into the King County Jail for assault, but was released Monday night while prosecutors consider whether to charge him with a crime.

Since then, Steven said he has nightmares and prays for his neighbor's recover.

"I'm torn ... I never wanted anyone to get hurt ... Nobody should have gotten hurt," he said. "I didn't mean to swing at his head. I was full of adrenaline, charged up and just swung the bat. I just needed to get my son to safety."

Steven said state law gives him the right to protect himself and his family when under attack. "I do not think I used excessive force because I only swung once and my intention was not to hit his head and to cause severe injury."

"I just wish none of this would have happened," Steven said. "If he would have just left my son alone."

Steven's wife, Tonya, said her husband never meant to hurt anyone and "it was a split second reaction."

"We don't both want something to happen to him," she said.

But even if the baseball bat injury turns out to be fatal, Tonya said she doesn't think her husband should be charged.

"It was self defense," she said.

KIRO Radio's Brandi Kruse contributed to this report.

Stephanie Klein, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Stephanie joined the MyNorthwest.com team in February 2008. She has built the site into a two-time National Edward R. Murrow Award winner (Best Radio Website 2010, 2012).
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