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A 57-year-old Illinois man was sentenced in Racine County Court Thursday to seven months in jail for two disorderly conduct charges that stemmed from a bizarre series of events that lasted about three weeks.

Daniel Hatch pleaded no contest to the amended charges. A total of seven charges were initially filed against Hatch in February, but in a plea deal with the Racine County District Attorney’s Office, all but two charges — including a felony stalking charge — were dropped.

Racine County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Boyle sentenced Hatch to serve seven months in jail with the option of work release and gave Hatch credit for the time he already served.

Boyle struggled with determining the appropriate sentence.

“Was it a violent or vicious (attack)? Was (the woman) bruised and battered? Or beaten horrifically? No,” he said. “But it does rise to the level of creating fear, beyond which you cannot imagine unless you are that person…. it was controlling behavior.”

In court on Thursday, Hatch apologized for his actions.

“I really regret being here. I want to apologize for my actions and inappropriate behavior,” he said. “…I went into a relationship trying to be somebody I wasn’t. I did that. I wanted to be better than I was.”

Hatch’s controlling behavior

Robin Zbikowski, an assistant District Attorney, with the Racine County District Attorney’s Office explained that it was difficult to make a sentencing recommendation.

“There are so many different facets when it comes to this case…the behavior on behalf of the defendant makes the hair on the neck stand up when you read the complaints here,” she said.

On November 4, the couple was out for a birthday party and the woman refused to dance with Hatch. The two fought in the car on the ride home and when they got home, Hatch became suicidal. They fought throughout the evening as Hatch held a knife to his chest and threatened to kill himself.

“He hides her cell phone and car keys so that she couldn’t call for help, even if she wanted to,” Zbikowski said.

The woman escaped and called the police. But because there was no weapon found and Hatch denied wanting to kill himself, officers told the woman there was nothing that they could do. The woman, however, agreed to leave the house, according to the Racine Police Department.

During the incident, Hatch made several statements in front of the officers that were noted in the Racine Police Department call log, including changing the locks, emptying the house and calling her bosses.

Driving to a friend’s house, Hatch called the woman on her cell phone under a false account and followed her to the friend’s home. Deputies with the Racine County Sheriff’s Department were called. But Hatch left before they arrived. Eventually, they arrested Hatch for disorderly conduct.

The woman signed a 72-hour no-contact order and a temporary restraining order. And between Nov. 4 and Nov. 21, Hatch was arrested two more times — once for disorderly conduct and then for bail jumping, according to Wisconsin Circuit Court records.

The reason why so many of the cases were dropped was because of the timing of events, that even though the woman had filed the appropriate paperwork for the 72-hour no contact, temporary restraining order and a protection order — those incidents fell between the times the orders were not in effect, Zbikowski said.

“The defendant was smart enough to… maneuver around those layers of protection for her, she said. “If she had a 72-hour-order, in the 73rd hour something would happen.”

Hatch hires private investigator

Hatch’s defense attorney, Robert Keller, underscored the point that the Racine Police Department didn’t arrest Hatch, that he didn’t hurt anyone, and no threats were made. Keller also offered up a different explanation as to why he hired the private investigator.

According to the criminal complaint, Hatch hired private investigators on November 8 to watch the woman and insisted that he start watching the woman the next day. The private investigator reported to investigators with the Racine Police Department that on Nov. 18 they realized that Hatch had lied to them, telling them he did not have any orders against him, that he was a Navy Seal, and had bought the woman a $28,000 engagement ring.

But Keller argued that Hatch wanted the private investigator to watch the house after the 15th, not Nov. 9 and said the dates in the police report were inaccurate. He also pointed to how the private investigator was never instructed to approach her or step foot onto the property.

“He did some weird things, I’m not going to deny that,” Keller said.

Still, Keller argued that no one was harmed by Hatch’s behavior because there was no “sinister intention behind it” and that a disorderly conduct charge is probably fair.

Boyle did not buy Keller’s explanation around why he hired the private investigator.

“I don’t buy for one second that you were having him watch the house… I’m sorry sir, but I’ve been down this road and I’m not naive,” he said.

Hatch was given 45 days to serve his time in the Racine County Jail.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.