CADILLAC — A 42-year-old Merritt man is awaiting sentencing after he was convicted by a jury of his peers Wednesday in Wexford County’s 28th Circuit Court.
Jesse Lee Ratcliffe was found guilty of one count of unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle and assault or assault and battery for his connection with an incident on Oct. 9 in Haring Township. The jury, however, found him not guilty of breaking and entering, illegal entry stemming from the same incident.
The jury of the two-day trial started its deliberation at 11:34 a.m. Wednesday and came out ready to render its verdict less than an hour later at 12:24 p.m.
The incident involved the theft of a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado. The incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 9, at a Haring Township residence and there was an altercation between the victim and Ratcliffe.
Ratcliffe arrived at a home in Haring Township, while the victim, in this case, was getting ready for work and happened to have just unlocked his pickup with the key remote, according to the Wexford County Prosecutor’s Office. When the victim of the home opened the door, the prosecutor’s office said Ratcliffe grabbed a hold of the occupant trying to pull him out of the house.
The victim still had the keys in his hand and was able to break free. The prosecutor’s office said a physical altercation between the two occurred. Eventually, Ratcliffe was able to get the keys to the vehicle and when the occupant went back inside, Ratcliffe drove away with the truck, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Wexford County Prosecutor Corey Wiggins said people should feel secure in their homes and with their belongings.
“Mr. Ratcliffe took that security away on Oct. 9th. Thankfully, nobody was injured during either the assault or the theft of the pickup,” Wiggins said. “The quick actions of law enforcement helped bring this matter to an end relatively quickly.”
When Ratcliffe is sentenced on Aug. 29, he will be sentenced as a third-offense habitual offender which doubles the maximum sentence. As a result, he faces up to 10 years in prison and suspension of his driver’s license.
Ratcliffe also is facing charges in Missaukee County related to incidents on Oct. 9. He faces charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, five counts of police officer assault, resist or obstruct and malicious destruction of police or fire property for his connection with an incident on Oct. 9 in Lake Township.
The charges in Missaukee County are merely accusations and not evidence of guilt. Ratcliffe is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
At 9:45 a.m. on Oct. 9, deputies from the Missaukee County Sheriff’s Office spotted the stolen Wexford County truck in the area of M-66 and Jennings Road, according to police.
The deputies indicated they wanted the truck to pull over, which the driver, later identified as Ratcliffe, did in the area of Jennings and Green roads in Lake Township. As the deputies attempted to contact Ratcliffe, police said he attempted to pull away and flee from the traffic stop.
In the process of attempting to leave, police said Ratcliffe rammed a patrol vehicle. As the deputies attempted to take Ratcliffe and his passenger into custody, police said they resisted arrest. Ratcliffe had to be subdued by the use of a stun gun, according to police.
A final pretrial has been scheduled for Aug. 1 in Missaukee County’s 28th Circuit Court.