Suspect indicted in theft of gun allegedly used to rob disabled Hawkins man

Jeff Bobo • Oct 2, 2019 at 11:31 AM

ROGERSVILLE — A Bulls Gap man accused of robbing a disabled man at gunpoint on Feb. 28 in Surgoinsville was recently named in a sealed indictment accusing him of stealing the gun and pickup he allegedly used in the incident.

Michael Francis Baggatta was originally charged with aggravated robbery, theft, and two gun charges after he reportedly robbed the man, who was attempting to sell some items including a necklace and a jacket in the Surgoinsville Car Wash parking lot.

Those charges are still pending in Hawkins County Sessions Court, and Baggatta is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 30.

Baggatta, 31, 445 Wolfe Branch Road, was additionally charged with burglary and theft over $2,500 in a Hawkins County grand jury sealed indictment on Aug. 20 stemming from the alleged theft of a pickup, handgun and sweatshirt from his mother on Feb. 27.

He was arraigned on those charges in Hawkins County Criminal Court on Aug. 30, and is scheduled for his next Criminal Court appearance on Feb. 19, 2020.

As for the robbery, on Feb. 28 Baggatta and a female accomplice allegedly approached a 61-year-old man who suffers from cerebral palsy at a Surgoinsville store.

Police told the Times News that the victim buys and sells used items to make extra money, and on Feb. 28 he was attempting to sell a necklace and jacket.

The couple allegedly lured the victim to the nearby car wash where, according to police, Baggatta tried on the necklace, which the victim offered for $40. Baggatta also reportedly asked to try on the victim’s Baltimore Orioles jacket, which wasn’t originally offered for sale, but the victim said he would take $25 for it.

Police alleged that Baggatta then walked away with the items. When the victim followed and demanded his property, Baggatta allegedly displayed the stolen handgun and threatened to shoot the man if he didn’t hand over his wallet, keys and phone.

Surgoinsville Police Department Chief James Hammonds told the Times News, “The victim told him, ‘If you’re going to shoot me, just go ahead and shoot me,’ and he got in his car. (The victim later) told me, ‘I’m 61 years old and I’ve had cerebral palsy my whole life.’ He said, ‘I ain’t scared of no gun.’ But he said, ‘It did frighten me a little bit when he pointed it at my head and said he was going to blow my head off.’ ”

Baggatta and the female then left and were arrested at the Rogersville Walmart. The Ford pickup the couple were using, as well as the handgun, were later reported stolen from Baggatta’s mother, who was at work when the items were taken.

Baggatta is being held without bond in the Hawkins County Jail due to a probation violation.

Other Hawkins County grand jury sealed indictments from the Aug. 20 session included:

* Christie Faye Bennett, 30, 3017 Main St., Surgoinsville: possession of meth in a penal facility. Bennett was arrested on Sept. 24 and is scheduled for arraignment in Criminal Court Oct. 11.

* Steven Ryan Harley, 26, 114 Hill Road, Kyles Ford: identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, theft under $1,000, possession of meth and possession of marijuana. Harley was arrested Sept. 24 and is scheduled to appear in Criminal Court Oct. 11.

* Keith Clayton Helton, 46, 103 Helton Hollow Road, Rogersville: burglary and theft over $1,000. Helton was arrested Sept. 22 and is scheduled for arraignment in Criminal Court Oct. 11.

* Andrew Marvin Dorton, 28, 1059 Route 113, Bulls Gap: four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Dorton was arrested Sept. 3 and is scheduled for arraignment in Criminal Court Oct. 11.

* Kristi Lea Bolden, 26, 495 Phillips Town Road, Bulls Gap: financial exploitation of an elderly person over $2,500. Bolden was arrested Sept. 3 and is scheduled for arraignment in Criminal Court Oct. 11.

* William Cody Casteel, 23, 440 Archcrest St., Kingsport: theft over $2,500, theft over $10,000 and vandalism. Casteel was arrested on March 17 for charges in a separate case and is scheduled to appear in Criminal Court on Oct. 21.

* Jennifer Denah Helton, 46, 503 Bear Hollow Road, Rogersville: three counts of introduction of contraband into a penal facility. She was served the warrant on Aug. 23 and is scheduled to appear in Criminal Court on Oct. 21.